SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE Harare City Council (HCC) has threatened to name and shame firms, churches and individuals that owe council millions in a desperate attempt to force residents to pay up bills.
This comes as the stretched local authority says it’s battling with collection that has heavily compromised service delivery to residents.
It also comes as Town House’s bank accounts containing a combined $115 million were garnished by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at the start of this year severely crippling council’s operations.
“We are soon publicising names of top 100 municipal debtors, including top companies, high-riding individuals and churches. Council is owed over $5,5 billion. Service delivery is heavily compromised,” HCC said in a statement.
Council is struggling to provide services such as refuse collection and water because only 25 percent of ratepayers are paying.
As of October 31 last year, ratepayers in the high density areas owed $382 million, low density $523 million, industrial and commercial $1,3 billion and government $64 million making a total of ZWL$2 273 738 420.
Presenting the 2021 budget proposals, finance committee chairperson councillor, Tichaona Mhetu said HCC should execute an effective debt recovery plan by creating a strategic alliance with Zesa Holdings and collect debt on the power utility’s platform as residents buy electricity.
Apart from that, HCC also plans to blacklist residents with a history of ignoring council bills.
“On blacklisting delinquent customers, engagements with a Financial Clearing Bureau are on course and this will bring immediate results through access to debtors’ database hence there is a need to expedite this process.
“Increasing payment platforms and revenue collection points is important to bring convenience to customers. Given that the existing general valuation roll is outdated, council should have a GVR in place by December 2021 to capture the true value of properties commensurate with each property,” he said.
Council also proposed that the government take over the legacy debt on water treatment chemicals $705 million and electricity $291 million so the city can employ the proceeds from tariff adjustment towards making water account operations sustainable.
HCC approved a $32,7 billion budget for this year.
According to Harare’s approved financial plan, an average high-density household is now required to pay $1 736 a month for basic services, while a family in the modest Mabelreign middle-density suburb will now be paying $4 558 monthly.