CHI-TOWN RESIDENTS BLAST DEBT COLLECTORS | Outraged Chitungwiza residents have fiercely resisted the hiring of debt collectors by the town’s local authority, arguing the move is oppressive to struggling ratepayers.
The concerns were expressed during two-day budget consultation meetings last week.
The rejection of debt collectors by Chitungwiza comes as Harare residents have also been fiercely resisting Harare City Council-contracted Wellcash Debt Collectors (Wellcash).
Wellcash has been hounding defaulting ratepayers in Harare, threatening them with letters of final demand or risk getting their property attached by the Sheriff.Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association director, Marvellous Kumalo, said the residents do not want to experience what happened in Harare.
“Residents and stakeholders who attended the meetings rejected the use of private debt collectors by council as this compromised the social contract that existed between the local authority, the residents and ratepayers,” he told the Daily News.
“Council should instead use its internal debt recovery systems, rather than hire external debt collectors that financially burden the municipality and those residents in arrears,” Kumalo argued.
He added that while the town’s revenue collection rate was low at 30 percent, council had not proved that it was employing other strategies to save the situation or attract investment.
Last week, the engagement of debt collectors such as Wellcash was debated in Parliament, with legislators questioning why the private company was involved with so many local authorities and companies.
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa queried whether Wellcash’s hiring by most local authorities was legal.
“Wellcash seems to be everywhere, but the arrangement is that there is a 10 percent benefit by the debt collectors, meaning that where there is $700 million they are going to get $70 million. Is this legal? Have you also investigated as a responsible minister to protect the ordinary people who are exposed to the vagaries of these very dangerous parasitic institutions,” Chamisa asked.
Goromonzi legislator, Beatrice Nyamupinga, also quizzed how the Local Government ministry had allowed Wellcash to rip off residents through demanding high interest on debts.
Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, however, said he would investigate the matter and present a comprehensive report to Parliament.
“Many of our councils are not able to get their outstanding debts so they are looking at ways of claiming the outstanding debts in order for the councils to function. I am hearing that people are complaining of ill-treatment by these debt collectors. We are seized with that matter in Budiriro and other areas and it is very painful to the people. I am going to investigate that issue,” he said.