GOVERNMENT departments and city residents now owe the cash-strapped Bulawayo city council a whopping $68 billion in unpaid rates and charges as the local authority struggles to provide service.
The latest figures represent an increase of about $22 billion on what the government and residents owed council at the beginning of November last year.
Documents from the city treasury department indicate that residents owe the largest chunk of unserviced debt.
Residents owe council a total of $51,6 billion and government departments a further $17,2 billion.
Previously, residents owed council $33 billion while government owed $13 billion.
The largest chunk of the amount owed by residents is in unpaid water charges that constitute about $27,9 billion of the debt while supplementary charges and rates are next at $13,9 billion.
Other areas of debt include sewerage, land sales and refuse removal charges.
Government departments’ debt stems from unpaid bills for water, sewerage and refuse removal.
The latest council figures, submitted by city treasurer Middleton Nyoni, indicate that the Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development is the biggest debtor at over $1,4 billion, closely followed by the Ministry of Health at $1,39 billion.
The Ministry of Home Affairs owes $1,37 billion.
The council recently benefited from a $150 billion local authorities advance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that will see it complete some of its capital projects that have been in limbo for a long time.