Harare to convert bills to USD
Harare (New Ziana) – The Harare City Council will soon start charging defaulting ratepayers in United States Dollars, in a move aimed at cushioning the local authority from inflation, an official said on Friday.
HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said the local authority is owed in excess of $17 billion by ratepayers.
“Various customers of the Harare City Council owe the city in excess of $17 billion. That money has been accumulating over a period of time. So council is now saying if your debt is over six months, we have no choice but to charge you at inter-bank rate and you pay in USD,” he said.
Earlier this week, council said it would issue 100 000 summons to defaulting residents while those owing large amounts of money were urged to negotiate payment terms.
Chideme said debt collectors would be dispatched to those who ignore to settle the bills.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said sending summons to ratepayers was not a sustainable solution.
“What the Council needs to urgently address is the billing system which has proven since March 2019 that it is dysfunctional and not enhancing billing accuracy. It must be revamped and replaced with the BIQ system which used to serve the council better than the current system.
“Residents bills are too high beyond their average household incomes and capacity to pay,” he said.
He said the trust has been urging the residents to pay their property tax and for any other services rendered by the council.
“They should not pay for services not provided. Residents of Harare should not be intimidated by the summons,” he said.
Shumba said the HRT was mobilising residents to make them aware of how to respond to summons and what to be doing in case they are served on them.
“The council has an option to pursue huge debtors in the industry and individuals who owe council above half a million each, yet these are powerful people who have the capacity to be paying the huge amounts charged. The billing system has to be revamped and rates should be reduced by 50 percent to meet the expectations of ratepayers, the majority of them unemployed and surviving on hand to mouth,” he said.