Harare enlists auction firm over defaulting ratepayers

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Harare City Council

Harare City Council has enlisted the services of a local auctioning firm to sell properties of ratepayers who are failing to settle their bills.

by XOLISANI NCUBE

According to a notice from Ruby Auctions, at least seven residents will have their movable properties sold by public auction as the local authority seeks to recover its monies.

The auction comes after the local authority had approached the magistrates’ court and sought a court order to attach properties of various ratepayers for non-payment of bills so that it could recover its money.

“Duly instructed by the Messenger of Court Harare, we shall sell by the public auction the following assets to the highest bidder at No 198 Erith Road, Willowvale, Harare, on Tuesday 15 December, 2015 at 2:30pm,” the statement from Ruby Auctions read.

Among the people whose properties are set to be sold include, Jekanyika M S, Mubaiwa L, Mlambo S, Batoni E, Masimba F and Mafaro Housing Co-operative.

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The goods set to be auctioned include refrigerators, sofas, generators, kitchen sets and coffee tables, among others.
The local authority recently said it was surviving on a shoestring budget as debtors owed it in excess $380 million against the 2015 budget of $390 million.

During a budget meeting with stakeholders, council finance director Justin Mandizha said on average, the city was collecting just 55% of their billing.

Mandizha said the city had cashflow problems with service delivery capacity being compromised and likely to continue in the future.

“Our debtors’ portfolio is sitting at $380 million with high-density areas owing $82 million, low-density $140 million, industry and commerce owe the city $141 million and the public sector owes nearly $17 million,” Mandizha said then.

As a way to recover the debt, council has come up with a payment arrangement which still is not yielding the desired results as residents and other defaulters are not forthcoming.

Among the strategies being implemented outside attachment of properties, council is also disconnecting water, a development Combined Harare Residents’ Association executive director Mfundo Mlilo said was a violation of residents’ rights, adding that apart from economic challenges, residents needed commitment from the city fathers, who did not seem serious about service delivery.

Residents alone owe council about $122 million, while those using water for commercial purposes owing $166 million.

Industry’s debt to council is about $34 million, while government owes the local authority $10,5 million.

Besides council, most residents owe service providers such as TelOne and the fixed telecommunications giant has also enlisted the courts to auction movable properties to recover its dues.

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