LOCAL Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was yesterday grilled in the National Assembly over the legality of Well Cash debt collectors that has been contracted by several local authorities and public hospitals to attach people’s properties over debts, and charging a 10% fee for debts recovered.
By VENERANDA LANGA
Goromonzi West MP, Biata Nyamupinga (Zanu PF) said the debt collectors were causing suffering, particularly to women.
Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) asked Kasukuwere to explain if it was lawful for Well Cash to get a 10% commission. He said if Harare was owed $700 million, Well Cash would get $70 million.
“First and foremost, debt collection is legal, and if you borrow you must pay back. However, we now need to look at their contract to see if the 10% benefit to Well Cash was made by local authorities,” Kasukuwere said.
Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) then asked: “When local authority budgets are crafted, they are authorised by the Local Government minister, and so, minister, are you saying that you authorised Well Cash? You are the one that is supposed to control this stupid thing of debt collectors?”
Kasukuwere promised to investigate the Well Cash debt collectors’ issue.
The Local Government minister was then asked by Mutasa South MP Irene Zindi (Zanu PF) to explain how his ministry would deal with touts that have become a menace at bus terminuses in various cities and towns resulting in deaths of passengers.
“Regrettably, we lost one of our citizens a few weeks ago because of touts pushing and jostling for that person. We have seen a rise in young men, who work as touts, and we have discussed this concern with city authorities,” he said.
“Harare is badly affected by touts because we still have old bus terminuses and they load passengers from the central business district (CBD). We have decided that the City of Harare must identify loading bays outside the CBD, and we will be closing down loading centres within the CBD.”
Kasukuwere said his ministry was planning on bringing on board urban transport systems like metered taxis to get rid of unregistered operators of pirate taxis commonly known as mushikashikas.
“These mushikashikas have caused a lot of damage and accidents to the extent that even when reversing, they can drive 40 to 50 metres backwards,” Kasukuwere said.
But, Glen View North MP, Fani Munengami (MDC-T) said the menace of touts was being caused by the economic hardships in the country.
Kasukuwere said this was being exacerbated by corruption where municipal police have not been arresting the touts.
Meanwhile, the question-and-answer session was disrupted for almost 10 minutes, as Harare South MP, Shadreck Mashayamombe (Zanu PF) demanded that Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) withdraw allegations she made last week in Parliament that 76% of legislators were HIV positive.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga refused to withdraw the statement, as she had used it as an illustration, while debating a motion on children being abused under the guise of selling sex. She had urged MPs to fight for the affected children to access medicines because they, as MPs, were also affected by HIV, but were lucky to get free antiretroviral treatment.
She was not asked to withdraw the statement by Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda.