Chitungwiza residents’ property to be attached over outstanding bills

A debt collector, Mangwana and Partners, has started assessing the property of residents who owe the Chitungwiza municipality money.

George Makunde
George Makunde

The assessment by the law firm owned by former cabinet minister and ex-Zanu (PF) MP, Paul Mangwana, has raised fears that the defaulting residents’ property might be attached soon.

The firm is understood to have won the tender to collect debts on behalf of all municipalities in Zimbabwe. Read a notice delivered by Mangwana and Partners to residents:

“Following your failure to respond to the final letter of demand for you to settle outstanding municipality arrears, this letter serves to inform you that debt collectors from Mangwana and Partners have duly inspected your house and its valuables for the purpose of taking further legal action.”

Residents said the impending attachment of their property, mostly houses, caught them off guard. Shuvai Nyirenda, of Unik J in Seke said: “We are not refusing to pay.

It is just that everything is happening so fast and it seems that this is a ploy to take people’s houses over small debts.”

Nyirenda, who owed council $150 said after paying $40 last month, she was surprised to see the debt collectors deliver a final notice indicating that they had inspected her property for collection and sale through a messenger of court.

Another affected resident, Pamela Chinomona of Zengeza, said it was disturbing that the notice indicated the intention to attach people’s houses.

“I do not see how a house can be attached over a $200 debt,” she said.

Chitungwiza municipality last year cancelled debts amounting to $38 million following government’s directive to scrap outstanding bills dating back to 2009.

However, due to poor service delivery and a shambolic billing system, an ailing economy and the high unemployment rates, residents have been defaulting in settling their utility bills, accusing council of failing to deliver services.

Seke residents last month spent three consecutive weeks with no water yet council continued billing them.

Another resident, Kennedy Jadagu, said: “In some instances, we default paying rates because our taps are dry most of the time. We have tried raising complaints (over poor service delivery) but we realised that this is a waste of time because council officials will tell you that they will rectify it, but they never do.”

Chitungwiza Town Clerk, George Makunde referred all questions to the finance director only identified as Machona who, however promised The Zimbabwean that he would respond later.

“I will get back to you with the finer details,” said Machona.

Makunde said the council was failing to fulfil its mandate because ratepayers owed the local authority $28 million, making Chitungwiza operate at a capacity of 30 percent in terms of service delivery.

He is on record saying that since the municipality engaged a debt collector, there was improvement in revenue collection.

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