Residents yesterday criticised Harare City Council for issuing out summons to defaulters instead urging the council to have a transparent and accountable billing system.
Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said most residents were being billed for estimated water consumption, yet the council employs hundreds of water meter readers to ensure accurate water meter readings.
“The billing system is chaotic and creates fictitious amounts for ratepayers and that is totally unacceptable and the council should introduce a transparent and accountable billing system.
“Sending summons does not resolve the troubling question of the integrity of the council service delivery system and refuse collection has ceased in most suburbs yet the debts include a service not delivered,” he said.
Combined Harare Residents Association programmes manager Mr Reuben Akili said they are concerned about the billions depicted as debt by the council which is premised on chaotic and shambolic billing system as well as non-provision of services.
“We reiterate that the integrity of the council billing system remains questionable thereby compromising the credibility of the figures or amounts generated on council bills. We therefore dispute the quantum owed.
“The current billing system in its form is subject to manipulation as we have seen payments made not being deducted or those who are religiously paying their bills are punished by an increase on their debt with the local authority,” he said.
Mr Akili said residents should pay for services provided in order to ensure that the local authority has money to finance its operations.
“However ratepayers should not ignore summons but respond to them in order to protect themselves from default judgments which will empower the local authority to attach properties,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts chairman Mr Shalvar Chikomba criticized the council for issuing summons yet it was failing to provide the services.
“As the residents we find it awkward that they want us to pay for services we are not getting. Taps are dry so it is very disturbing that we reach the extent of taking each other to summons while we are not getting the services.
“Remember refuse collection in communities has been proven a failure leading to increased dumpsites and also the corruption among council officials is causing misuse of our funds,” he said.
Mr Chikomba said though they encourage residents to pay, the council should be able to deliver good services and basic social amenities.
Harare City Council credit control assistant Stewart Sithole said the city was planning to collect at least $2 billion monthly.
Mr Sithole said they would be attaching properties that would be auctioned to enable the council recover its money.