Harare City Council Calls Off Debt Collectors

Friday, 10 March 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE – The City of Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has ordered Town House to disengage the services of Wellcash Debtor Collectors, hired by the struggling authority early this year to recover nearly $700 million in outstanding bills from rate payers.

Residents owe the city $386m while government’s debt is $21m with $300m being owed by commercial entities.

Chitungwiza, a satellite town which enjoys some services from Harare, also owes the city $21m.

Manyenyeni, an MDC-T official, said in an internal memo the controversial deal should be stopped adding that the company was using “brutal” methods to demand outstanding debts from residents.

"Please can you suspend the current exercise until council has received and approved a more equitable relationship with our debtors through a correct and sustainable financial performance programme.

"The debt recovery method used so far have been reportedly brutal or at best arrogant," read the memo.

The move was welcomed by residents who felt relieved after allegedly being subjected to continued harassment by agents from the company.

A pensioner from the city’s low density Greencroft suburb who identified herself as Mai Tsuro said she could now sleep well at night.

"I will now sleep well at night knowing that no one is coming to confiscate my property to settle the debt.

"For the last couple of weeks, I had nightmares of the debt collectors coming with a big van to take my property," she told RadioVOP.

Mai Tsuro, who owes council over $2000 in outstanding debts, said her pension was eroded during the hyper-inflationary period prior to dollarisation in 2009.

Roy Moyo, an Eastlea resident, also said the debtor collectors were "rude" when they were demanding the debts.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) which has been challenging the decision by council to engage debt collectors, said it was pleased with the city’s decision to terminate the services of the company.

“As a residents association, we welcome the move to suspend the contract of Wellcash Debt Collectors (Pvt) (Ltd) as this symbolises an end to intimidation and extortion,” said the group.

"We however contend that the best way forward is to CANCEL Wellcash Debt Collectors’ contract after which council makes payment plans with residents."

The new development follows an order by the MDC-T on its councillors to disengage the services of the debt collectors after residents have been accusing the main opposition of being insensitive to their plight.

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