The isssuance of letters of final demand by Harare City Council (HCC)has been a source of consternation for residents in most high-density areas.
Sunday View: Harare Resisdents Trust
The areas greatly affected by this development include Mabvuku, Tafara, Highfield, Glen Norah, Warren Park, Dzivaresekwa, Glen View, Budiriro, Kuwadzana, Kuwadzana Phase 3, and Rugare among other suburbs. This development comes amid a general political and administrative discord exhibited by the city fathers at Town House.
There has been a general lack of consensus from the city fathers and management on how best to provide public services to the citizens.
There have been no deliberate attempts by the city fathers to reach out to residents and address their problems. It is ironical that the residents who were issued with letters of final demand are the ones who are worse off in terms of social status and reside in areas that have experienced erratic service provision.
Residents in the mentioned high-density suburbs are subjected to perennial shortages of water and when it is available, it is unsuitable for human consumption, uncollected refuse, and poor road network and ineffective and unaccountable elected leadership, in particular councillors.
Most residents in these areas do not have the financial capacities to settle the huge debts which the HCC alleges have accrued since 2009.
The final demand notices were issued to residents with debts ranging from about US$40 to several thousands of dollars.
City fathers are expecting the residents of Harare to pay for services which they do not provide. In addition, from February 2009 to December 2010, the HCC charged residents estimated bills and most services like refuse collection and water were not being provided.
It is improper for the city council to continue to charge interest on outstanding debt yet the residents have shown commitment to settle despite their inability to pay.
The Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development has to immediately intervene to save the masses from an abusive and arrogant elite, masquerading as senior council management, lacking capacity and the willpower to guide the policymakers at Town House on this issue.
The general public has experienced high bills, poor service delivery and low incomes yet senior management continue to pay each other huge salaries, not matching incomes of the residents and the capacity of council to generate enough revenue.
Councillors are being urged to act responsibly and treat residents’ issues with the seriousness they deserve; otherwise they have no justification to remain in office if the people who elected them into office are being ill-treated by their employees. Whose interest are the councillors serving within the august house?
The HCC claims in the media that these final demands are merely meant to frighten residents to pay up their outstanding bills, yet they proceed to court seeking full payment or attachment of properties, creating unnecessary medical conditions among the elderly, women and children.
There is a legal process prescribed in terms of Section 279 subsection 1 to 5 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) which outlines the procedures which are to be followed when recovering rates from the residents.
A local authority is empowered to take several steps in a bid to recover the outstanding rates. In the same vein, Section 281 Subsection (a) and (b) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) and other legal proceedings for the recovery of rates which are the due process which the councils follow. They do this knowing very well that residents are vulnerable and are mostly ignorant of the legal proceedings.