Harare to name, shame defaulters

HARARE City Council has resolved to name and shame some of its outstanding debtors after it emerged that the local authority was owed over $600 million in unpaid rates by both domestic and commercial consumers since January this year.


Harare City Council

Harare City Council

According to minutes of the finance committee presented at a full council meeting on Tuesday, the local authority is owed $624 million, whereas it owes $438 million to various service providers.

As a way to ensure compliance, the local authority resolved to name and shame prominent personalities with outstanding debts as well as capacitating its revenue collection teams.

“Council had to consider the naming and shaming of some prominent Harare residents, who owe council in rates and rentals,” part of the minutes read.

Recently, council embarked on an aggressive revenue collection blitz, but the exercise only raked in $5,5 million, amid speculative reports that residents were reluctant to clear their debts in anticipation of a rates write-off by government ahead of next year’s general elections.

In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Zanu PF ordered all local authorities to write-off residents’ arrears, with opposition parties dismissing the move as a “populist vote-buying gimmick”.

“All ratepayers in low, high-density, industrial and commercial properties, whose accounts were overdue were served with final demands.
However, responses from industrial and commercial properties were rather poor in comparison with domestic properties due to closure of most companies,” the minutes read.

Councillors also noted council’s various businesses and commercial properties were generating insignificant amounts of revenue.

“The committee noted with concern, the non-payment of dividends by the various businesses of council and underscored the need to address this matter. The committee further noted with concern that trenching fees were not being paid.”

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