Furore over Council debt collectors

HARARE - Residents have approached lawyers seeking recourse over a 10 percent commission charged by Harare City Council (HCC)-hired debt collectors.

Council has engaged WellCash Debt Collectors to recover money owed for water and rates by residents, with the debt collectors forcing ratepayers to be liable for the 10 percent commission charged on each instalment paid.

Community Water Alliance programmes manager Hardlife Mudzingwa said residents had approached the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to help them deal with the summons.

“Today, HCC and ZLHR representatives will be meeting to discuss the problems raised by residents.

“Chief among them is that WellCash was demanding money from residents and not surrendering it to the local authority,” Mudzingwa said.

Mudzingwa said residents had been complaining that the debt collectors were demanding 10 percent as part payment of the debt.

He said because of this, many residents paid up money that was supposed to have been paid to the local authority.

“Many people were duped into paying 10 percent of their debts to WellCash. However, the agreement between the debt collectors and council was that the same 10 percent would be paid to WellCash upon realisation of debts.”

“When residents approach their district offices to make payments, they are told to go to WellCash,” he said.

Mudzingwa said because of the confusion, WellCash would collect double as they would get 10 percent from residents and council.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed that a meeting will take place.

“I cannot comment on the issue now because it is being handled by our lawyers. We will have to wait until today when the meeting happens,” he said.

According to letters sent out to residents by the debt collectors, they claim that a penalty fee will be charged if payment of amounts owing are not paid within the stipulated time.

“Note that you shall pay the overdue amount plus summons cost as court fees and interest thereof as well as further legal costs incurred by engaging the Messenger of Court in pursuance of the debt,” read part of the demand letter.

It also stated that the option of imprisonment would be taken if debtors did not have enough assets to clear their debt.

According to the latest finance committee minutes, HCC is owed more than $530 million by residents, companies, and industry and government departments.

Comments (1)

Mugabe destroys our jobs, our country, our livelihoods and now we are forced to pay zvikwereti when we evidently cannot. Is it not time to also stand up and force Mugabe out and get our lives back nekuti when things were all normal company inonzi Wellcash was never in existence as well all went about our lives and paid our obligations. Food for thought

nyimo - 21 January 2017

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