City of Harare has issued 256 lease cancellation notices to defaulting tenants in an effort to recover a debt of $4.5 million from lease holders.
This move is set to affect many people in the City who have been leasing council properties over the past few years. In a press statement that was released by council on 18 June, the Principal Communications Officer for Harare, Michael Chideme said that council was on a drive to ensure that lease holders pay their monthly bills.
“There are people who have not bothered to pay a single cent since the debt write-off in July 2013. The City is owed in excess of $300 million and the money is required to fund service delivery such as provision of water, sewer, refuse collection, street lighting, road repairs and the general maintenance of city facilities,” said Chideme.
Chideme revealed that the City has also issued 4,039 warrants of execution valued at $16, 536, 786 against property owners in Marlborough, Borrowdale, Mt Pleasant, Adylin, Bluffhill, Greendale, Chadcombe, Msasa Park and Cranborne.
“An additional 28,404 summons valued at $24 992 671 have been issued against defaulting ratepayers. Summons has been issued to Kambuzuma, Rugare, Kuwadzana, Crowborough, Highfield, Glen View, Westlea, Borrowdale, Gletwyn, Mt Pleasant and Marlborough,” outlined Chideme.
The City’s Principal Communications Officer added that water disconnections were also taking place in Mt Pleasant, Avondale, Borrowdale West and Marlborough.
“All commercial properties that owe the City over $10,000 have been handed for litigation through the High Court. Our investigations have shown that absentee landlords make up the bulk of people whose properties are not up to date,” said Chideme.
Council has been struggling over the past years to recover its debt. Harare recently resorted to attaching residents’ property in order to recover its dues. However, this has been slammed by residents’ organisations who argue that the City is billing people for non-existent services.
Meanwhile, council on 18 June 2015 also took journalists and stakeholders on a tour of council’s five district offices that have been connected to the BIQ (network) system. The stakeholders included Harare Residents Trust (HRT), Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Harare Residents Alliance (HARA), Zimbabwe Older Persons Association, Junior Council and Harare Informal Traders Council.
Chideme said that Glen View, Highfield, Mufakose, Budiriro and Kuwadzana district offices have been connected to the network that is operated by a server at council’s Rowan Martin building, “This is a pilot project and we expect to finish the connection of all 23 district offices by December 2015.”
The networking of all district offices will enable real time updates on all accounts. This has been welcomed by residents who have previously complained of late updates on accounts after making payments as well council’s billing system which has been termed as shambolic.