Mutare council threatens defaulters over $30m debt

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CASH-STRAPPED Mutare City Council, which is owed more than $30 million by defaulting residents and businesses, has vowed to attach defaulters’ properties if they continued snubbing to clear their arrears, a senior council official said.

BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

Council finance director, Lloyd Musasa said council last month engaged debt collectors, Mangwana and Partners, to collect the outstanding debts, but residents and businesses were struggling to pay up.

“Only a few residents and businesses served with the letters of demand have made efforts to pay. This situation leaves the debt collectors with no option, but to attach property. We didn’t want to take that route, but in circumstances like these, sterner measures need to be applied to make people pay,” he said.

Musasa said each month, the council billed about $1,7 million, but the local authority was collecting about $800 000.

“What it means is that the amount that council is owed by ratepayers is increasing with a monthly margin of $1 million and this explains why the figures have risen to close to $30 million,” he said.

Mutare

City town clerk, Obert Muzwazi said the situation had greatly affected service delivery.

The council, which is apparently operating on a hand-to-mouth budget, is failing to repair damaged roads, collect garbage as well as rehabilitate aged sewerage systems that are bursting almost on a daily basis.

Muzawazi said the council had noted with concern that some residents had not paid anything since dollarisation.

“We have noted that some people have not paid a cent since dollarisation, despite the council having extended an olive branch to defaulters to clear their debts,” he said.

Muzawazi added that the non-payment of rates by residents had resulted in the council struggling to pay workers, a move he said had lowered worker’s morale.

However, residents and businesses accused the local authority of charging exorbitant rates for services rendered.

Some residents said acute water supplies in most suburbs had frustrated them, to the extent of boycotting rates payment.

Other Mutare suburbs are reportedly going for weeks without water supplies, owing to dilapidated and aged conveyance system that is failing to cater for the growing population.

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