BY SILAS NKALA
THE Hwange Local Board (HLB) has challenged owners of undeveloped stands in the council’s jurisdiction to pay bills to the local authority or risk having their properties repossessed.
In the latest HLB council report, town secretary Ndumiso Mdlalose said all owners of land must pay rates to the local authority as stipulated in the Urban Councils Act.
The minutes were released at a time when some land owners were questioning the local authority’s powers to bill them despite that their stands were unserviced, and had incomplete structures.
Section 218 of the Urban Councils Act states that all land owners are liable to be charged by a local authority.
Mdlalose said lease agreements between the land owners and council compelled the owners to pay a lease fee upon being allocated a stand.
He said this should be paid whether the stand is unserviced or serviced.
“Stands with title deeds don’t pay lease fees, but are made to pay rates only and service charges, while those with leases and are serviced should pay lease fees plus rates,” Mdlalose said in the minutes.
“Every stand should pay something to the council. If the stand is located in a serviced area the owner should pay all service delivery charges (lights, refuse collection, roads and sewer maintenance fees) whether he has developed it or not, because it is deemed that they are the user of such,” he said.
HLB has been concerned over an increase in the number of derelict stands, some of which have not been paid for a period of five years and above.
The local authority has also expressed concern over the high number of residential and commercial stands that have remained undeveloped for several years.
Council regulations state that if an owner fails to develop a stand for two years, the local authority can repossess it without paying any compensation.
HLB said it had the authority to repossess these properties as guided by the Titles Registration and Derelict Lands Act (Chapter 20:20).
Mdlalose could, however, not disclose the number of derelict stands in the council’s jurisdiction.