City fathers should write off outstanding bills

 EDITOR — The City of Harare (COH)’s incentive to solicit debt settlements from residents has hit a brick wall, with residents describing the move as a no-deal. The COH announced on the June 6, 2013 that they were going to slash outstanding bills by 30 percent if the incumbents manage to pay off by December this year. This move has been blasted by residents in Mabvuku who have gone for more than five years without water supplies. The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) held a consultative meeting in Mabvuku and the residents had no kind words for the city treasurer whom they described as unreasonable, together with his counterparts at Town House. Residents pointed out that the COH has no right to lay out terms to residents since residents have no obligation whatsoever to pay money for services that were not rendered. The COH actually owes residents for the loss of their relatives who succumbed to typhoid and cholera due to council’s incompetence. Furthermore, residents wanted the city treasurer to explain how council had made its calculations considering that the Zimbabwe dollar was phased out in 2009. Financial institutions dissolved all their clients’ accounts while the COH decided to make quick money by converting the Zimbabwe dollar debts into United States dollars. What angered them most was that other councils like Bulawayo and Chinhoyi dissolved all residents’ arrears yet COH is only removing a fraction of the bills. Residents pointed out that it is only common sense for COH to cancel all 2009 outstanding bills; especially considering the fact that Mabvuku had gone for more than five years without water and there were mountains of uncollected garbage at every shopping centre and street corner. The consolidated bill was not also welcomed by residents; who said they need separation of rates where water bills stand alone from those on health and refuse collection as water is an extinct resource in Mabvuku. The CHRA ward leaders who were at the meeting also said that the COH is combing bills as a way of duping residents as they know that if the bills are separated there will be no revenue collected on water supplies from Mabvuku and many other Harare Eastern areas. The representative of COH who attended the meeting failed to calm the furious residence and left without giving clear responses to the issues that were raised. Residents maintain that the COH should write off the 2009 outstanding bills. Only then, will there be room for negotiations with the council. CHRA,Harare

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