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Defaulting ratepayers owe City of Harare US$70m



THE City of Harare is owed more than of ZiG940 million (about US$70 million) by residents, businesses, parastatals and government departments, among many other defaulting ratepayers.


As a result, the Harare City Council says it now is embarking on an aggressive rates collection exercise to get payments and gather resources desperately needed to provide sustainable service delivery.

The capital city’s fed up authorities say defaulting ratepayers’ actions have a significant impact on service delivery.

Their failure, refusal or neglect to pay has serious consequences on service delivery and efficiency in the running of the local authority.

City authorities say some of the negative impacts of the ratepayers’ failure to pay, include:

*Reduced revenue: Unpaid bills deprive municipalities and service providers of essential funding, limiting their ability to deliver services.

*Service cuts: Inability to pay staff, maintain infrastructure, and cover operational costs may lead to reduced or discontinued services.

*Deteriorating infrastructure: Lack of funds hinders maintenance and upgrades, causing infrastructure to deteriorate, leading to service disruptions and failures.

*Increased tariffs: To compensate for lost revenue, service providers may actually raise tariffs for paying customers, creating an unfair burden.

*Decreased creditworthiness: Defaulting ratepayers can harm a municipality’s credit rating, making it harder to secure loans for infrastructure projects.

*Reduced investment: Private investors may hesitate to invest in areas with high default rates, limiting economic growth and development.

*Social and economic disparities: Defaulters may disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities.

*Inefficient resource allocation: Service providers may need to divert resources from other essential services to cover shortfalls, compromising overall service delivery.

*Legal and administrative burdens: Pursuing debt collection can consume significant administrative resources, diverting attention from core service delivery tasks.

*Undermining trust and accountability: Widespread defaulting can erode trust between citizens, municipalities, and service providers, undermining accountability and civic engagement.

Emphasising the importance of timely payments and responsible financial management, Harare City Council spokesperson Stanley Gama said:

“The consequences of defaulting ratepayers can have far-reaching impact or influence on the quality and reliability of essential services.

“This is money that is needed to run the city operations and ensure service delivery.”

Gama said the city is now vigorously pursuing defaulters to pay their bills and to recover outstanding payments, while ensuring service delivery.

“We have since started issuing final demands and summons to our debtors.
The summons will be served on all our debtors without fear or favour,” he said.

“The city will also embark on a name and shame exercise to encourage debtors to settle if they fail to honour payments.

Names of debtors will be posted on our social media platforms and at all district offices in Harare to pressure them to pay.

“To avoid the inconveniences of being taken to court with the possibility of losing property like houses and household items, debtors are urged to immediately settle with the city.
“Our banking halls are open every week day from 8am to 5pm.”

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume recently said the money owed to council by government and parastatals is crippling service delivery in the capital.

Speaking to the media in Harare recently, Mafume said defaulters are a major cause for concern.

“Ironically, the government is one of our biggest debtors, and we appreciate that the minister is aware of this issue. As you know, in this country, councils are among the few remaining service providers that operate on a post-service basis,” he said.

“We will compile a list of debtors and present it to the minister (former Local Government minister Winston Chitando). Since he has acknowledged the issue, we will kindly ask him to raise it during cabinet meetings.”

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