Gweru residents have demanded the removal of the 19% interest per annum on defaulted payments which was effected early this year, to force residents to settle their debts which now stands at more than $277 million.
This was said at a service provision dialogue meeting held recently at Gweru Memorial Library hosted by Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) meant to create engagement between councillors and residents on service delivery issues.
Mike Marimo a residing at ward 1, said: “Residents are pleased that the council have stopped attaching people’s property thanks to councillors for their understanding as well as GRRA for being the voice of the voiceless, though a lot still needs to be done by the local authority.”
He further said the 19% interest should be reviewed to improve their relationship with residents.
Another resident, Clayton Ngara stated that, the 19% interest on all defaulting residents should be scrapped and was unjustifiable considering the deteriorating socio-economic environment in the country.
“I think the 19% per annum interest should be revisited and even scrapped for good because our socio-economic situation in the country is on a downward spiral. Considering the bills they implemented for this year’s budget, they are very high and need to be reduced,” he said.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee Cllr Martin Chivhoko said, “We discovered that some people have never paid their rates since the 2013 right off by the government. Some residents did not visit the revenue hall but there are some residents who pay their rates religiously and that’s why we are having water at our households.
We suggested that if we put the 19% people might be pushed into paying their bills. However, a full council meeting was held last week to look into the 19% so that it maybe scrapped inorder to lessen the burden on residents. I urge all residents to pay the little that they have to ensure the prosperity of this city.”
At the same meeting, the Deputy Mayor Cllr Cleopas Shiri stated that, “We moved the motion last week and we asked our management team to draw a road map on how they are going to deal with our billing system so that it becomes efficient and effective.”
“I encourage you to go and engage with your local councillors if they do not cooperate then you can come to us and you should also provide us a reference number so that we can come with feedback and give you the reason why the challenge happened,” said the Deputy Mayor.
Recently, GRRA Executive Director, Cornilia Selipiwe wrote a letter to council dated on the 27th of May 2021 which reads: “We write to your good office showing our gratitude for giving residents a two week period window to clear their outstanding debt without attaching any property. As a council you have showed that you have people at heart and without residents, we cannot achieve our vision to be a prosperous city of choice by 2030…
However, as residents we feel that, there is more that needs to be done going forward, such as: “1) Two week period is short due to the socio-economic situation in the country, 2) 19% interest rate on debt is very high and would you kindly consider scrapping it off for now since residents are already struggling to pay their current bills…”.