Helen Kadirire 3 May 2017
HARARE – Harare City Council has begun attaching property of debtors as
part of efforts to improve its revenue collection.
The attachments come after the local authority contracted debt collectors
to recover more than $600 million it is owed by residents, businesses,
industry and government departments.
A source within council said some residents in Mbare and Mabvuku had their
property attached last week.
“In Mbare along Bassopo Moyo Way, a family had most of their household
goods taken away because of a long-standing debt with council. They had to
plead for some of their blankets not to be taken,” he said.
Residents Forum coordinator Denford Ngadziore said while the city may have
enlisted the services of debt collectors, it does not make what they are
“Contracting debt collectors does not address the root cause of the
economic meltdown which is preventing ratepayers from meeting their
obligations,” Ngadziore said.
Combined Harare Residents Association said while some have already lost
property, there was no Act of Parliament that empowered debt collectors to
issue threats of attachments.
“Some of the residents who have been served with letters of final demand
by the debt collectors have not been receiving water for years and it
boggles the mind why council would like to claim payment for services not
rendered,” Chra said.
Community Water Alliance (CWA) programmes manager Hardlife Mudzingwa said
residents were not fully aware of the legal procedures with regard to the
Mudzingwa said council was preying on residents’ ignorance by issuing
default judgments on those who did not respond.
The CWA programmes manager said their organisation noticed that bills sent
to residents and water consumed did not tally because some residents have
not been receiving municipal water.
“We have analysed most of the debts for people in areas such as Mabvuku,
Borrowdale and Waterfalls and realised that these people are being charged
for consuming water yet some have not received the service in the last
five years. The debts accruing are thoroughly incorrect,” he said.
HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme could neither confirm nor deny the
development only saying that people ignore final demand letters.
Chideme said when demand letters are delivered to debtors they throw them
away only to react when property is being attached.
“Whether the property was attached from a private residence or a
council-owned premises, the city will take the necessary steps to recover
its money. The problem is that people do not take those letters seriously
and only want to react when property is taken,” he said.