GWERU Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) has adopted a unique approach, where they mobilise residents and put pressure on council to accept any amount on their outstanding bills as a way of clearing arrears as well as contributing to revenue for service delivery, the Southern Eye has established.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
GRRA chairperson Cornelia Selipiwe confirmed the ongoing mobilisation programme, which he said started at the end of October and had seen council revenue collection increase after the residents association’s intervention.
“The background of the mobilisation programme is that as GRRA we had entered into a 24-month payment plan with council towards clearing our outstanding bills,” Selipiwe.
“But we realise that some ratepayers with huge arrears were failing to afford the down payments demanded by council, and were being turned away from revenue halls. On October 31, we mobilised our members and marched to different revenue halls where 189 people managed to pay $ 3 362 in three hours.”
According to information gathered by this paper following GRRA’s mobilisation programme, council, which used to collect between $1,3 million to $1,6 million per month, increased its revenue base to $2,1 million between October and November.
Selipiwe said the programme was ongoing and council was now accepting any amount that residents could afford in order to clear their bills.
“We have residents who have bills as high as $3 000, and if we are to adhere to the 24-month payment plan it means that person has to fork out $125 per month,” he said.
“But that same person is saying I can afford $30, why turn him or her away? It’s better that something is paid to clear that debt rather than a situation where nothing is paid at all. Besides improved revenue collection on the side of council, it also entails improved service delivery.”
Recently, the local authority said it was owed $58 million by residents.
Mayor Josiah Makombe said it was encouraging to see residents devising strategies to mobilise each other to pay their debts to council.
“As council, we are open to criticism as long as it’s constructive, and when residents association like GRRA mobilise their own members at least to part with something in settling their bills, it’s quite encouraging,” he said.