The Gweru City Council in Zimbabwe is locked in a legal battle with Zesa Holdings over land lying under its power lines. Gwesu City Council demanded the parastatal to pay over US$5million in rates instead of land.
The City Council owes Zesa over US$24 million in unpaid electricity bills. According to them there are large tracts of its land which are unsafe because they lie under Zesa power lines. The parastatal does not pay for land that lies under power lines in all local authorities.
A report from mid-year reveals that Gweru City Council had billed Zesa US$5 138 502 for the first half of the year. There are high voltage power cables that pass through Gweru from Kariba Hydro Power Station. Hence rendering the space unusable.
Way leaves were included in the city council’s last budget. These way leaves pertain to rates instead of land lying below Zesa electricity lines. According to them their billing is in respect of such land and its budget was for US$4 981 200. This was for the period under review. Their actual billing for the same came up to US$5 138 502.
Zesa Holdings is disputing the legal framework empowering the local authorities right to charge them way leaves and the matter is before the courts. that is according to the report.
Consultations have started with an aim of introducing prepaid water meters. This is a way of containing the ballooning debt owned by residents and industry in unpaid rates. Gweru City Council is responsible for these consultations.
According to Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza this introduction of water meters, will help them recover $55 million from residents and industry. This is although most residents are against the installation of the water metres in Gweru. This will help recover the money debtors owe The Gweru City Council.