Defaulters’ properties in Chitungwiza at risk

Residents who have failed to settle outstanding debts to the ailing Chitungwiza Town Council last week had their properties inspected by a debt collector.

Chitungwiza Town centre
Chitungwiza Town centre

Shuvai Nyirenda from Seke said: “We are not refusing to pay. It is just everything is happening so fast and it seems that this is a ploy to take people’s houses over small debts.”

Nyirenda owes the council $150 and paid $40 of the debt 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 the messenger of court.

Read a notice delivered by Mangwana and Partners, the firm of former Zanu (PF) MP Paul Mangwana: “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.”

“I do not see how a house can be attached over a $200 debt,” said Pamela Chinomona of Zengeza.

Chitungwiza last year cancelled debts amounting to $38m following the 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 started defaulting on utility bill payments and have accused the council of failing to deliver services. Seke residents last month spent three consecutive weeks with no water, yet the council continued billing them.

Kennedy Jadagu said: “In some instances, we default on paying rates because our taps are dry most of the time. We have tried raising our complaints, but we’ve realised that this is a waste of time.”

Chitungwiza town clerk, George Makunde said the council was failing to fulfil its duties because ratepayers owed $28m. Chitungwiza was operating at a capacity of 30 per cent in terms of service delivery.

He said that, since the municipality engaged a debt collector, there had been an improvement in revenue collection.

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