New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Harare Sues 6,000 Defaulting Residents

HARARE City Council is suing some 6,432 residents over unpaid bills as the local authority moves to recover the US$254 million it is owed including by government and private businesses.

Council spokesman Leslie Gwindi confirmed the development saying: "Yes we are issuing summons to defaulting residents.

"The Messenger of Court is going to deal with the matter on our behalf. We have referred some of the cases to our external lawyers."

Gwindi said residents issued with summons should immediately make payment arrangements to avoid losing their properties.

The 6 000 summons issued to date are valued at US$12.3 million. Some 432 cases US$13.5 million have been transferred to lawyers.

"We want all our residents to pay their bills so that we can be able to deliver services," said Gwindi.

"We are also disconnecting water supplies to defaulting ratepayers. We are rolling out the exercise across town."

Residents owe the city US$105 million, government US$16 million, industry and commerce US$130 million. Satellite towns of Chitungwiza, Norton, Ruwa and the sprawling township of Epworth owe a combined US$3.4 million.

The bulk of the debt, amounting to US$92 million, is for water supplies.

"The city is also negotiating payment plans with big debtors. Door-to-door visits are being conducted to meet and discuss payment plans," said Gwindi.

The city bills for up to US$24 million every month but is only able to collect on average US$11 million.

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