BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
CHIREDZI residents have up to September 30 to pay up their debts on land sales — some of them dating back to 2008 — or risk losing their stands after the town council announced its intention to repossess stands that have not been paid up.
A public notice dated August 30, 2019 and titled Chiredzi Town Council (CTC) Repossession of Unpaid Up Stands posted by council in public areas read: “To those with outstanding debts on land sales, including service charges for low density, Makondo (all phases) industrial and commercial, including the new central business district area, be advised that council is demanding the amount in full.
“Failure to comply, council will have no option than to repossess. All payments should be made at our Tshovani rates hall offices on or before September 30, 2019.”
This was after United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA) wrote to CTC on August 1, 2019 demanding transparency and accountability after it emerged that land sales debts continue to balloon, reflecting failure by the cash-strapped council to collect the much-needed revenue.
According to the report, released and presented by Chiredzi Town Council chairperson Gibson Hwende in July this year, land sales debts amounted to $4 959 236, jumping by over half a million from the $4 356 218 that was indicated in the July 2018 analysis report.
“During the period under review, council was owed $6 302 941 for rates and other services by various people and organisations. Land sales debts amounted to $4 959 236,” read the report in part.
“UCHIRRA then wrote demanding council to identify all defaulters and find a way to make them pay up to enable a smooth running of its operations. Its advocacy officer Bernard Dachi said his association felt that council should guard against basking in false glory if they think water improvement in the Makondo area was anything to write home about.
“It is an open secret that grants from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) and Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), which saw our council resurfacing West Road and upgrading the water system, were sourced by the previous administration led by Francis Moyo. Even the medium-density project was started by Moyo.
“However, I will not take away the credit of monitoring those projects and making them a success from the new administration. They should keep that standard up. The experience they have acquired so far should help them in future if they get more grants from Zinara, PSIP or devolution money.
“So, as an association we urge council to step up their debt collection on land sales in order to enable them to service other statutory obligations, instead of solely relying on grants. Over half of the debts are owed by industrial, commercial and low-density stand-owners, which means chances of recouping that money is very high,” Dachi said.