2013 debt write-off haunts Harare

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Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo

THE decision by Zanu PF to write off residents’ debts to local authorities ahead of the July 3013 general elections has backfired amid reports the campaign strategy is now haunting Harare City Council.

BY MOSES MATENGA

The local authority is now resorting to suing residents who default in payment of rates to raise money to be afloat.

The move has resulted in the cancelling of 256 leases and issuing of more than 4 000 warrants of execution to debtors.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme yesterday said several people had not paid their dues since the debt write-off, but insisted gloves were off as council was leaving no stone unturned in recovering millions owed by business and residents.

“Harare City Council is on a drive to ensure that property owners and those that lease council properties pay their monthly bills to council. There are people who have not bothered to pay a single cent since the debt write-off of July 2013,” Chideme said.

In 2013, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo announced a write-off of residents’ debts, a move described as populist with far-reaching effects on service delivery.

Chideme said it had emerged that most of the debtors had not paid even a single cent to council since July 2013.

He said Harare was owed in excess of $300 million and that the local authority was doing everything possible to recover the money.

“The money is required to fund service delivery such as the provision of water, sewer, refuse collection, street lighting, road repairs, and the general maintenance of city facilities, among a host of other uses,” he said.

“This week, the city issued 256 lease cancellation notices to tenants occupying council properties. The abovementioned properties owed the city $4,5 million,” he added.

He said the local authority had issued 4 039 warrants of execution against property.

“The warrants are valued at $16 536 786,50. An additional 28 404 summons valued at $24 992 671,40 have been issued against defaulting ratepayers.

“Warrants of execution have been served to residents in Marlborough, Borrowdale, Mt Pleasant, Adylin, Bluffhill, Greendale, Chadcombe, Msasa Park and Cranborne,” Chideme said.

He said water disconnections were also taking place in Mt Pleasant, Avondale, Borrowdale West and Marlborough.

All commercial properties that owe the city over $10 000 have been handed over for litigation through the High Court.

“Council is also encouraging all property owners leasing their properties to ensure that owners’ rates are paid to council. Our investigations have shown that absentee landlords make up the bulk of people whose properties are not up to date,” he added.

6 COMMENTS

  1. That decision was not fair on all the people who were up to date with their payments hence the boycott. It would have been better if there was an equal deduction on all accounts rather than prejudicing all the faithfuls. look at what Zesa did. Everyone got an equal share of the spoils…. Its never too late to address that.

  2. True that . Zesa aproached the move with better sense ,those who had there bills paid up got there share of extra kilowatt/hour. Not these council guys. They actually showed us it pays not to payup. They complicated the whole issue. The court will only give non payers time to pay 3 months or a year or so . The non payers will blame the economy in mitigation.

  3. Also pained ,awaiting 2018 elections for redress .All other utilities handled the debt issue very well except councils .There is still room for balancing the situation now rather than threats of summons etc.

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