BCC stops attaching residents' assets

BULAWAYO - Councillors here have resolved that the municipality stops attaching property from residents defaulting on payments but find other avenues to make them settle their bills.

The resolution was made on Wednesday in council chambers after a motion by Silas Chigora, who is the councillors’ caucus chair.

The local authority is owed a total of $158 million, with $90 million owed by domestic debtors, most of them unable but willing to pay.

“Council must use all channels available to collect rates and stop engaging lawyers as this further puts a burden on the debtor as lawyers charge exorbitant collection rates,” the resolution says.

“The debt collectors are paid first from auctioned proceeds, therefore are the only beneficiaries ahead of council. Council must therefore stop using debt collectors, stop attachments and instead engage residents.”

With debt collectors taking years to resolve bad debt, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has resolved to nurse defaulting accounts back to health rather than using aggressive means to collect — a practice that critics say fosters a sense of impunity among defaulters.

“As councillors, we are cognisant of the hardships our residents are going through, high unemployment at more than 90 percent, coupled by shortage of money in banks and all economic hardships facing them, we cannot punish them further by attaching property and selling it to recover debts.

“We therefore resolved after a thorough debate that council must engage all domestic debtors and find ways how they can pay their outstanding bills.

“Attachment of property must not be one of the solutions but payment plans and other avenues must be used,” Chigora later told the Daily News in an interview.

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