CHI TOWN DEBT COLLECTOR SAGA, MUNICIPALITY THREATENS RESIDENTS | Chitungwiza Municipality has clashed with a residents’ representative body, Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest), after the local authority stated its intention to hire a debt collector to recover over $62 million owed by ratepayers.
The decision was made after a paltry 4 666 out of 55 000 residents that are understood to be indebted negotiated for a payment plan as at the cut-off date on October 14.
Chitrest believes that move is insensitive. Last Friday, acting town clerk Ms Charity Maunga said residents ignored the municipality’s call to engage the local authority over what they owe.
“We have extended the deadline three times: the first time an advert came out in August, then end of September and mid-October,” said Ms Maunga.
“We were calling upon our residents to come forward and make payment plans since we appreciate that the economic situation on the ground is not permitting for them to pay their arrears at one go. We were so lenient, giving them more time to pay their debts and after the deadline about 4 666 residents have responded to the call contrary to the 55 000 in our data base.”
Ms Maunga said Chitungwiza tried everything possible to persuade residents to comply, but to no avail.
“We have done stakeholder engagements with various stakeholders as an open plea from council to pay our creditors and give quality service to our residents,” she said.
“We also thought our residents would respond to our call, now that they have not responded, we have no choice but to engage a debt collector because we need some money.”
Ms Maunga noted that they were still willing to engage residents. But Chitrest is against the decision to set a debt collector on residents.
“While as an organisation we have always fully encouraged our membership to take up their responsibility of paying their bills, it is the punitive, heartless and a greedy idea to engage a debt collector,” said Chitrest acting director Ms Alice Kuvheya.
She said the local authority was superintending over a grand collapse in critical service delivery, as was clearly evidenced by the unavailability of tap water, a dilapidated road network and pathetic solid and liquid waste disposal.
“We need not to remind council that you eat what you gather and as such, we will only pay for services rendered,” said Ms Kuvheya.