By Draxon Maloya:
A long time mistrust on finances between Ward Councillors and Secretariat officials at Mzuzu City Council has resulted into a joint operation in which Councillors have abandoned the duties of sitting in the Chambers to formulate by-laws and embark on a door to door revenue collection exercise.
For the past two weeks the joint operation revenue collection team closed a number of businesses and offices which included that for Malawi Housing Corporation and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) regional office for the north.
Speaking during similar operation on Monday where a number of shops were closed in Mzuzu Bus Depot chairperson for Mzuzu City Council’s finance committee, Hiwette Mkandawire said the council is failing to discharge it’s duties due to financial challenges hence the involvement of ward councillors in the exercise.
“The council is failing to provide it’s ervices just because people stopped paying City rates, businesses and those owning dwelling units are not paying tax anymore, so the ward coucillors from the finance committee thought it wise to take part in this revenue collection exercise which will later go to the dwelling units in all the Townships,” said Mkandawire.
It was also established that MCP Vice President for the north, Harry Mkandawire settled the outstanding K900 000.00 debt the party had with the council in ground rates arrears
However, the closure of businesses in Mzuzu Bus Depot did not go down well with shop owners including its former vice Chairperson, Cannitius Kasambara who blasted council officials for failure to issue notices to those with outstanding debts with the council.
“I don’t see any logic here because Council officials do always come here to collect money, so they have just decided to come and close shops without even issuing us with any notice, which is a clear indication that something is not adding up at the Assembly,” Kasambara said.
Commenting on the issue, Mzuzu City Council’s Public Relations Officer, MacDonald Gondwe said the council is only enforcing the law which demands every city dweller to pay city rates.
“We have embarked on a campaign aimed at sealing businesses and property for those defaulting payment of City rates and not necessarily fault finding councillors or the Secretariat on the issue of finances at the Council.
“Councillors are only involved for them to appreciate some of the outstanding challenges that have been there for a long time resulting into low revenue collection at Mzuzu City Council,” emphasized Gondwe
On several occasions, Mzuzu City Council have relied on the courts to save it’s property listed to be auctioned by the sherrifs for failure to pay it’s suppliers and pensioners who have been dragging it to court.