Zvifadzo Lubombo Herald Reporter
HARARE City Council has assured residents that it is in the process of writing off their debts for rates accrued between February 2009 and June this year and the development will be reflected on their bills for this month. Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi said in a statement yesterday that the bills for this month would reflect charges for July and August only.
“City of Harare would like to advise all ratepayers that in compliance with the ministerial directive to write off debts, the city is currently reversing all arrears on rates, rentals, refuse, sewerage and other charges owed by individual ratepayers,” he said.
“The arrears being reversed are for the period February 2009 to 30th June 2013. Against the above background, you are therefore advised to pay current charges in full and to ensure that bill settlement remains up to date to avoid inconveniences.”
The writing off of the debts would exclude corporates, industrial, commercial and any other business, Dr Mahachi said.
The move follows a directive from Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo that all councils write off the debts.
Minister Chombo said the debts had become a burden on citizens who were being weighed down by economic hardships brought about by Western-imposed sanctions.
Apart from the sanctions, Minister Chombo said it had become clear that the debts were non-collectable and that the councils were spending more in an attempt to recover them.
Residents’ associations also raised complaints over the arrears caused by unjustified increases in rates and bills by MDC-T led councils, especially in urban areas.
The debts to be written off by the Harare City Council will amount to US$330 million.
Local Government, Rural and Urban Development permanent secretary Mr Killian Mpingo said that many councils were complying with the Government directive.
“So far we do not have figures of the councils that implemented but the reports that we are getting show that many of them are complying,” he said.
Some of the councils that have so far complied with the directive are Mutare municipality, Masvingo municipality and Masvingo Rural District Council.