The Bulawayo City Council has introduced a new payment scheme for account holders with overdue balances in a bid to recover $77 million it is owed.
The local authority has since proposed that account holders with overdue balances pay the actual monthly rates and 10% of their outstanding debts every month.
The city threatened to cut water supplies to clients that failed to adhere to the new requirements.
A notice issued by the council this week reads in part:
“City of Bulawayo wishes to advise its valued customers that it is offering credit terms to account holders with overdue balances. You can now pay your current monthly bill and 10% of the outstanding amount to avert having your account being subject to debt-recovery measures including your water being disconnected.”
Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo on Tuesday said the advantages of taking up the scheme for the ratepayers were that council would freeze interest on the overdue balance.
“We do not want to inconvenience the people with water cuts, so the proposal is a way of trying to avoid a situation where residents would be disconnected.
We want to clear the minds of the people because living with debt is often stressful,” said Moyo.
“We want to separate the monthly rates and the money owed. They have to pay the monthly rate and a bit of the money owed.
“If they pay 10% of the money owed then there won’t be interest charged on the outstanding balance. The clients will get to finish payments for the outstanding money without being inconvenienced by water cuts.”
Moyo called on all the account holders with overdue balances to visit council offices and agree on payment arrangement.
“This is the best arrangement under the circumstances. At the end the customers get to pay their debt and council recovers the money that will be channelled to improve service delivery,” he said.
In his end-of-year address last week, Moyo said non-payment of debt by account holders that had accumulated to $77 million was compromising service delivery.
He said the debtors included government, domestic and commercial consumers.
Some Bulawayo residents had their water supplies disconnected last year due to unsettled bills, most of which ran into hundreds of dollars.
Council said it had to disconnect debtors so as to encourage them to pay up.