Harare City Council says it will continue enforcing the collection of more than $600 million it is owed in unpaid bills by residents, Government and businesses.
The city says residents should make payment plans and stick to them to avoid debt collectors and lawyers pouncing on them.
Council coffers have improved significantly since the city engaged the services of debt collectors in November last year, with people jostling to pay their arrears to avoid having their properties attached.
The city, as a result, is now paying its workers every month.
However, last week Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, wrote a letter to acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube asking her to terminate the contract of all debt collectors.
In an interview yesterday, Mrs Ncube said she had targets to collect and council was holding her to the targets to ensure that she improved collection and service delivery.
“As we have indicated, council is owed more than $600 million and what we would like is to give good service and the service we provide is commensurate with what people pay. What we have indicated to our residents is that they must pay their bills on time, and where they are unable to, they must come and make payment plans and ensure that they stick to those payment plans religiously,” she said.
“Where people are not paying we are left with no option except to hand over to debt collectors or lawyers, who are acting on behalf of council. That is a last resort that we only employ where people have failed to make their payment plans and stick to them.”
She said council would continue to enforce the collection of what it was owed using whatever means available.
Mrs Ncube said council did not enjoy seeing residents having their properties attached, hence it was urging them to make payment arrangements.
“Pay to council and no debt collector or lawyer will ever visit you if you comply with that payment plan. We have seen a lot of improvement but we would like that improvement to be sustained not through debt collectors but through a culture where people just ensure that they pay for the services that they are receiving or which they want to receive,” she said.
The city says more than half of Harare residents are not paying their bills with acting finance director Mr Tendai Kwenda saying they are collecting between 45 and 50 percent of what they bill residents.
Mr Kwenda said the city had an elaborate debt management system and did not hand over residents to debtors without engaging them first. Source: The Herald