Harare City Council goes after debtors

28 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Harare City Council goes after debtors Harare Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango

The Sunday Mail

The City of Harare has issued more than 1 000 court summonses to residents and businesses in order to recover part of the ZiG940 million (about US$70 million) the local authority is owed in unpaid rates. More than 1 000 ratepayers with overdue balances exceeding 60 days received 14-day letters of final demand to settle their debts before legal action is taken.

The letters of demand were then followed by court summonses delivered between April 15 and 19. Council says it plans to issue not less than 2 000 summonses every week.

Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said: “The current state of debt is paralysing council operations and council has been left with no choice except to take legal steps.

“Between April 15 and 19, council issued 1 000 summonses to those clients who failed to respond to final demands within the 14-day notice period, and council intends to increase the number of summonses to 2 000 per week. “These summonses are issued to clients whose debts are 60+ days old.

“Therefore, if one has not cleared their balances since February 1, 2024, then they are definitely candidates for this exercise.”

The move, Eng Chisango said, was being undertaken in line with Sections 279 and 281 of the Urban Councils Act, which empowers local authorities to institute legal proceedings to recover debts.

Section 279 of the Act reads: “The person who is the owner of any property on the date on which any rate fixed and levied by the council becomes due and payable shall be primarily liable for that rate.

“If, on the date on which a rate becomes due and payable, the owner primarily liable has failed to pay that rate, a demand in writing may be served on him requiring him to pay the amount stated therein within fourteen days of the service of the demand.”

Eng Chisango said council was first issuing letters of final demand, which gives ratepayers a 14-day notice period. “If a ratepayer does not pay within the 14 days, then a summons is issued. “Therefore, for all summonses council has issued, final demands were served and lodged with the civil court as evidence of compliance with the Act.

“As such, no resident is being taken by surprise with the summonses, as prior notice would have been given.

“It is those who chose to ignore the final demands who are served with summons.

“Council intends to proceed to issue warrants and further executions for those who ignore their responsibility to pay.”

He urged residents to pay their bills to ensure council delivers services.

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