HRT urges residents to pay bills on time

Harare residents should strive to ensure they pay their monthly bills on time to allow the local authority to provide efficient service delivery following a directive for the cancellation of their debts by the Minister of Local Government, the Harare Residents Trust has said.

Chombo directed local authorities to write off outstanding municipal bills up to June 2013 in the run-up to the July 31 polls. In a statement, HRT said the move to cancel the debts was welcome and had vindicated a lot of poor residents, some of whom had their properties attached for failure to pay their outstanding bills to council.

HRT slammed councillors for failing to push for the cancellation of the debts following numerous complaints from and demonstrations by residents.

The trust, however, said that it was imperative for the local council to ensure they provided efficient service to residents as a way of encouraging them to pay their bills.

“The Minister’s directive on debt cancellation should not be misconstrued to mean people should live for free in urban local authorities but should strive to pay because money is needed to provide essential services.

“But residents will not pay for services not rendered as a matter of principle. As residents we must take this debt cancellation as a once in a lifetime, and should provide us with a clean start, and a departure from non-payment of bills,” read the statement.

The HRT implored incoming councillors to directly engage with the people and address their concerns rather than pay a blind eye to their concerns as was the case over proposals for debt cancellation which were seemingly being ignored.

“The debt cancellation which was done by the Minister would have been done by the Councillors who were the first point of engagement for the HRT on this matter, if they were listening to the voice of the residents whom they should primarily represent in their council.

“Residents are not concerned on who really made it happen, but are celebrating a victory over tyranny at Town House where arrogance and contempt for the poor people reigned supreme in the last four and half years. Some were being diagnosed with high blood pressure due to economic and social hardships,” read the statement.

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