Harare City Council, Debt collectors send conflicting signals to residents

Residents of Highfields, Harare say they are getting conflicting messages from the Harare City Council and Wellcash (Pvt) (Ltd) Debt Collectors with the former threatening residents with attachment of property in the event that they sideline them and pay their debts directly to council.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni

The Harare City Council has engaged Wellcash (Pvt) (Ltd) Debt Collectors on the justification that this will compel residents to pay their debts.

However, the move is illegal as there is no Act of Parliament in Zimbabwe which allows debt collectors to issue threats or attach property on behalf of creditors.

At a community meeting held by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) at Machipisa Shopping Centre on February 2, 2017, residents said that as a result of the threats by Wellcash Debt Collectors, they had lost their hard earned cash for fear of losing property.

Wellcash Debt Collectors are charging an extra 10 percent of what residents already owe to council.

A Lusaka resident, Alexander Gurutsa said: “We were given warnings that the right channel to pay our debts was through Wellcash Debt Collectors yet council is telling us that we should pay directly to them. Because of fear, residents ended up paying to the debt collectors and were deprived of their money in the process.”

CHRA has held community meetings in Glen Norah, Glen View and Mufakose to educate residents on the illegality of debt collection. During the meetings, CHRA is encouraging residents to pay their debts to council directly on the grounds that Wellcash debt collectors were acting illegally.

Residents who spoke during the Highfields meeting bemoaned that debt collectors were taking advantage of their lack of knowledge on legal issues to fleece them of their hard earned cash.

The residents said that educative platforms would go a long way in assisting them to safeguard their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

“Some of us lack knowledge on legal issues and whenever we are threatened, we are left with no option except to comply. So we feel that more of these platforms will go a long way in educating residents on their rights,” said Mavis Rungano.

CHRA Chairperson, Simbarashe Moyo, in his address called upon residents to liaise with the residents’ association in the event that they are threatened with attachment of their property.

He said the move by the Harare City Council to engage debt collectors showed insensitivity to the plight of suffering Zimbabweans.

“Residents have failed to pay their debts largely due to the economic hardships prevailing in the country and as such, we feel there has to be payment plans rather than for the city council to attach residents’ property,” said Moyo.

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