the country’s biggest business expo scheduled to run from April 26-30.

Broke Victoria Falls City to miss ZITF

CASH-STRAPPED Victoria Falls City Council will be a notable absentee at this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) owing to resource constraints.

This will be the first time in history that the municipality fails to attend the country’s biggest business expo scheduled to run from April 26-30.

This comes at a time when the local authority, which was in 2020 granted a city status, is owed a staggering $500 million in unpaid rates and service charges.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dlamini said council was in a messy financial situation owing to low cash inflows.

“The Victoria Falls municipality will regrettably not partake in this year’s edition of the ZITF as we are having resource constraints. Our coffers are very limited and we have seen it best to skip this year’s trade showcase,” Dlamini said.

He added that the council was faced with rising cost of service delivery amid a struggling economy in the city, saying the majority of the population was employed in the service industry which was heavily bruised by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We had to prioritise service delivery over the trade showcase. We could not do both, so we had to ensure that we stick to our mandate. As it is we need water treatment chemicals, they are costly, residents have not been paying but we have been trying our best to stretch available resources. Hopefully we will be able to attend next year’s edition of the fair.”

Dlamini, however, said some businesses based in the resort town would be exhibiting at the trade fair and said he hoped they would drive investment to the Falls.

“While the council won’t make it, we will be well represented by the business community and we are certain that they will bring good fortune home. We enjoy good relations with the ZITF Company and wish them a successful trade fair,” he said.

Meanwhile, the mayor indicated that the municipality was struggling to recover the $500 million it is owed by ratepayers.

“We have not been able to recover this money through dialogue and the next step is water disconnections. We are unable to render services as it is because our coffers are dry due to non-payment of services,” he said.

“So far the disconnection strategy has been working as we have managed to recover some of the money.”

The majority of Victoria Falls population relies on tourism-related activities in the city and most residents have been struggling owing to the two year Covid-19-induced lockdowns. By Andile Tshuma

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