Council swoops on defaulters property

precious shumbaDaniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
AT least 350 residents had their vehicles and household property attached and auctioned after failing to pay bills and settle their debts as Harare City Council battles to recover nearly $500 million owed in unpaid bills.

To date, council has sued at least 10 000 defaulters.

The Harare Civil Court this year received in excess of 10 000 cases from the local authority.

Most of the claims were granted, prompting defaulters to pay off the debts.

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Statistics from the Messenger of Court’s office show that from January this year to date, around 350 defaulters had their vehicles and household property attached and auctioned.

Mostly affected are residents from high-density areas.

The Messenger of Court has attached 14 vehicles from defaulters, while hundreds lost an assortment of household goods this year.

The latest batch of seized household property went under the hammer at Ruby Auctions.

Yesterday, residents flocked the Messenger of Court’s office trying to negotiate payment plans.

Some were in possession of letters from council staying attachment of their property after they had paid part of the debts.

Economic analyst Mr Brains Muchemwa urged residents to pay their bills and move out of the culture of expecting free services.

“In the Zimbabwe dollar era, people could afford to ignore council bills for four to five months, waiting for the figure to be eroded by inflation.

“In this multi-currency system, the more you ignore the bills, the more they balloon. The debts are not going anywhere because there is no inflation.

“People simply have to pay their bills monthly to avoid huge bills that can result in loss of property,” said Mr Muchemwa.

Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the attachment and auctioning of the property.

Harare Residents’ Trust spokesperson Mr Precious Shumba said rates charged by council were too high.

“The fact that residents are unable to pay in full what they should pay in terms of rates and rentals, is evidence that the rates and rentals charged by the local authority are beyond the reach of the majority of residents that they claim to serve,” he said.

Mr Shumba said council must also consider Section 183 of the Urban Councils’ Act which provides for the cancellation of debts when residents are failing to pay.

“HRT denounces the City of Harare in the strongest terms. We urge council to read again Section 183 of the Urban Councils Act which specifies that any rates, which have not been paid for a period of five years may be cancelled by the local authority,” he said.

In January this year, the Messenger of Court instructed Ruby Auctions to sell household goods for eight defaulters while February, 30 people lost their properties.

In March, 47 defaulters lost properties while the following month, 34 people had their properties auctioned.

Only one ratepayer lost property in May but the figure escalated to 115 in June.

July saw 48 residents losing property over council debts.

This month, 55 defaulters have so far lost household property and vehicles and more property attached from defaulters is yet to be sent to the auctioneers.

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  • Samanyika

    Matibatirawo property yema big fish who dont pay their bills here kana kuti munongoti sika sika nembeva dzisina marishe.

  • Hungwe

    I have tried on numerous occasions to effect a stop order for City of Harare Rates payments but each time somebody goes to Rowan Martin, the help they get is minimal, almost discouraging such a process / move. City of Harare should encourage residents to effect stop oders easily. This can help clear bills. Please work out such a process.

  • b c

    Publication of a breakdown of debts by government departments, business, high and low income defaulters will be useful. All debtors must be treated the same. We are keen to know why the municipality is not taking any action against government departments and ZANU PF aligned officials and entities who owe huge debts.

  • Gamatox Mutasa

    Muchanzwa Kasukuwere akuti HCC must write off the debts.And then still expect HCC to provide a service!.Munhu anoda kugara mahara,achinwa mvura iri treated mahara,marara ake achicollectwa mahara,madhodhi ake achibviswa mahara.Inyika yekupi yakadaro nhai varume.People shd do their part by paying their bills then the city council will provide a service.Izvi zvatakajaidzwa neZanu zvekuti tinoda freee service izvo its not sustainable.Siyanai nepolitics dzanaChombo nanaKasukuwere

    • terrence

      # mutasa you are not living in zimbabwe most of the bills charged by hcc are estimated how can you pay for estimated bills hcc has enough staff to do accurate billing we have to first reconcile before paying and hcc must do that.

      • s shumba

        So ae you paying what you “think you owe” hcc, because if you are not paying how do you expect to get any services from same. Look into yourself – are you telling us the truth or are you lying like Zanu pf

  • GENERAL MBEZO

    Targetting the already suffering with small bills while ignoring the big fish is subterfuge and schandenfreude of the hihest order…! We all know that government , its departments and ministries are the biggest defaulter before we even talk of these government officials running their own businesses ..they pay zero..takarasima ne ghetto…!

    • Collin Mackenzie

      So people should not pay for service delivery

  • Fred Moyo

    I am waiting for 2018 to have my bill cancelled off! Last time I missed out because I used to pay my bill every month.

  • Cde Jairos Tapfuma

    Harare has been taken over by subalterns. Harare has gone to the uncultured. People who urinate on the streets, people who want to make a living out of the city but do not want to pay a single cent towards service. You see them make money through vending on the streets, at Mbare Musika, cheating farmers, at Market Square making hundreds of US dollars every day, building unsanctioned houses on unsanctioned land through dubious politicians.

    And as we speak youths have had urban land parceled out to them, whether they meet the requirements of owning an urban piece of land is unknown, but most likely they do not have even a single source of income and we expect them to fit in well into urban settlement. Go to Dzivaresekwa, Mbare, Tafara, Mabvuku and you will notice that many residents have dug wells in their yards, some just consume council water and they remain in debt because they do not want to miss a meal with meat or bacon in order to save towards water payments.

    Such is Harare, and then enter politics, with MDC councillors thinking that running Harare is their only opportunity to loot the same way some of my colleagues might have looted state resources too just because they are in government. Who will rescue Harare? Gone are the days when Solomon Tawengwa was the Mayor who did not want to see a pothole on the road, did not want to have any malfunctioning streets and traffic lights in the city. We will miss these guys. We are missing Mayor Jabulani Themani, Charles Tawengwa…we first had Much Masunda, who had to buy a 4Matic Mercedes ML to withstand potholes. we have councilors who want 4 x 4 vehicles because the roads have potholes. They do not even care why

    We will miss Enos Chikowore, who managed to preside over the construction of urban flats successfully to ease housing shortages. Today we have Cde Kasukuwere failing to control the parceling out of valuable land for free in order to win votes. This is not doing us any good. Zanu-PF and the MDC are just letting people down. They need to unite for once and forget about imperialist or individual interests and be worried about the voters who have put them into power.

    Tsvangirai must not be worried about what Britain or America will say, President Mugabe must not be worried about what his close allies will say – BOTH should only be worried about how ZIMBABWEANS should have their welfare improved. That is what we need for now. we can not be in perpetual conflict like what we are witnessing now. After independence, i did not know i would get this old without really settling and enjoying Zimbabwe. Always on our toes…this must not continue.

  • Collin Mackenzie

    Please most pay for service delivery period.
    I support the fact that they goods must be sold.
    How do afford to buy 4×4 yet you cannot pay for water and refuse collection.
    Zimbabweans like free things and good things and don’t know how to maintain or even pay for them and yet expect good service delivery.

    Please take their goods and even dogs and sell.

  • the condemned

    ngavatange nema minister then come to povo

  • isa

    These people am sure they have small account balances. May those who really owe the council stand up. Why can they not put a least of defaulters in the press.

    • Collin Mackenzie

      Say that again they must bloody pay, these same fools are robbing us the ones who pay and then cry foul regarding service delivery.

      They must go back to the rural areas where you can shit and cover up with soil not in our cities.
      Hence we have no street lights

  • Fred Moyo

    I paid my bills reliously prior to 2013. Instead of rewarding those who pay bills they reward those who dont pay by cancelling their debts. SO, I am waiting for 2018 to have by bills canceled also. Why pay if those who dont are rewarded???

  • Mushawasha

    Ko nhai Mayor Manyenyeni, Philip Pfukwa anoregera basa rinhiko? Inga Zvobgo wakamuendesa kumba wani. Koiye Pfukwa why is he not being retired like everybody else of his age? Is this becuause mukuwasha waChombo?

  • Certified Servant

    Municipalities must be serious, they must first parade the services, not asking the public to pay for non existent services. Look at the potholed roads especially in all the high density surburbs, with countless tyre punctures a rational being would opt to fix car first to be able to continue doing his/her daily business then council dues later.

  • Cde Jairos Tapfuma

    ?? Did you read and understand my presentation? I am saying the city has been taken over by those who do not want to pay for service delivery yet they expect improved service.