HRT demands Debt Cancellation from ZESA and City of Harare

Zimbabwe public service authorities should immediately cancel debts from the period February 2009 to December 2010, a senior residents’ movement official has said.

The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) board Chairperson Emilia Chakatsva said government should spearhead the scrapping exercise in line with the cancellation of savings and pension funds that occurred when the economy dollarized in February 2009.

Mrs Chakatsva blasted the debiting of US$10 onto residents’ bills by the City of Harare in February 2009 when the country adopted the multiple currency system, adding that this had accumulated hugely unjustified interest rates.

“Government through the Central Bank cleaned up savings and pension funds of all rate paying citizens but its parastatals’ did not do the same on water, telephone and electricity accounts.

“That council immediately imposed US$10 on Harare residents accounts for services not rendered and to a population that had not yet been remunerated in foreign currency does not make sense and should be rectified.”

The HRT Board Chairperson said in the interim, the Government allowed local authorities to debit ratepayers accounts, but totally failed to offer any form of credit stimulation to appease the harshly treated and battle hardened citizens, whose earnings had just been wiped off their bank accounts, reducing them to economic desperation.

She said elected and appointed policy makers who were elected in 2008 had abandoned residents and allowed the local authority to act as a loan shark by allowing it to send letters of final demand, periodic summons and property attachments based on estimated bills that have unwarranted huge interests.

Mrs Chakatsva, who is also a women’s rights activist said the payment plans being advocated for by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the City of Harare were not feasible as indicated by the huge number of residents that continue to fail to raise the minimum 50 percent deposit they demand from poor residents.

“The fact that residents are failing to raise the minimum deposit for a payment plan after being cut off from services by the power utility and municipality is an indicator of the state of salaries or incomes and employment rate which remain very low, despite Zimbabwe now being in the mid-term economic recovery period,” she said.

She said the HRT would continue to lobby and advocate for the total removal of debts accrued between February 2009 and December 2010. The HRT has given the City of Harare and ZESA until 31 August 2012 to cancel all debt.

Failure to heed this call, the HRT will be mobilising residents to organise themselves to set up rates Funds where legal and banking professionals will administer these funds on behalf of the citizenry as a measure against the continued abuse and mismanagement of council resources. Residents will not pay to the City of Harare but will deposit their rates into these funds which will only be released to the council once residents are satisfied that they have been adequately involved in the planning and project implementation.

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