via Chi-town hires Zanu PF MP to collect debts 06 July 2014 by Staff Reporter
CHITUNGWIZA Town Council, saddled with a massive $50 million debt, has turned the heat on residents to try and recover $27 million owed to the beleaguered authority by defaulting rate payers.
But the authority will need to do more than just engaging debt collectors to win over a defiant population, angry with its continued failure to render the minimum of services.
Chitungwiza recently engaged former Zanu PF Chivi South MP Paul Mangwana’s law firm – Mangwana and Partners – to try and recover millions in outstanding rates owed by residents.
Last week, residents started receiving letters of demand from debt collectors, urging them to pay or risk having their property attached.
“We represent the named (Chitungwiza Municipality). The municipality instructs us that you owe the sum of US$448.38 for rates and services and water charges,” the letter reads in part.
“We hereby demand that you pay the said amount in full, plus US$13 for this letter of demand and 10 percent collection commission within seven days from the date of this letter.
“If you fail to pay, we shall take this matter to court and you will be made to pay more legal expenses. If you are taken to court, this may result in your property being attached and sold.”
But the residents have remained adamant, insisting they will not be forced to pay for poor, erratic and sometimes none existent services by the authority.
“It is in fact the residents who should be suing the council for failure to meet its obligations while squandering the funds on their (town managers) own comforts.
Similarly, residents of the more squalid Mangoromera suburb near St Marys said was it through God’s grace that they have not yet experienced the outbreak of both cholera and typhoid in the area.
The residents have been using buckets and plastic bags to relieve themselves and cannot remember the last time they saw council water dripping through their tapes.
“This is a joke; what is happening should be the opposite … we should be demanding quality services through our lawyers and attaching council property because our relatives working there are not being paid and the road to Huruyadzo from St Marys police is now popular for its sewage flow,” said Christine Changara, a resident.
Residents owe the struggling municipality $27 million of dollars in unpaid water bills and rates. The authority has since been hogging the headlines all for the wrong reasons.
Council managers told parliament last week they were now working from their homes fearing attack by restless workers who have gone for nearly a year without pay.
The workers blame poor management and downright corruption by the administrators for the current crisis.
Chitungwiza Mayor Phillip Mutoti is quoted as saying the debt collectors route was the town’s last resort to raising outstanding salaries.
“We tried to look for loans to enable us to pay our workers and we even tried to talk government about the matter but all our efforts were in vain,” he said, adding, “that is why we have had to engage the debt collectors because the only avenue left for us is money from the rate payment.”