THE cash-strapped Zvishavane Town Council has engaged a local law firm to collect outstanding debts from the small mining town’s residents.
Town council secretary Tinoda Mukutu said the local authority had decided to take legal action against residents in arrears and had handed the debtors’ list to council lawyers Patience Chigariro and Partners to recover money owed to the municipality so it could embark on capital projects.
“We have engaged debt collectors, especially for those residents that have gone for over two or three months without servicing their bills,” Chigariro said.
“As a council, we have a lot of work that needs money and at the moment we want to develop our corporate sector and improve water works, among other projects, but we are limited by funds.
Mukutu said some residents had improved on payments after threats of legal action, but others had simply ignored the warning.
“There is a slight improvement by residents who have managed to make payment plans with some clearing off their debts, but the greatest challenge is with corporate organisations’ debts that have continued to balloon,” he said.
Council’s finance director George Jongoni said he could not reveal how much debtors had paid since legal notices were issued, but said the response was satisfactory.
“Some debtors have shown commitment and that has to be appreciated.
“However, the larger chunk still leaves the council in the red limiting the authority’s plans to embark on developmental projects that include building a school, sewer and reticulation system, among others,” Jongoni said.
Zvishavane council is owed over $20 million in outstanding bills with the now defunct Shabanie Mine owing over 50% of the amount.
Meanwhile, residents have commended the town council for making notable improvements in the mining town by installing street lights, refurbishing the Mandava public toilets that had become a health hazard and making visible road maintenance.
“As residents, we need to support the local authority by paying our dues.
“It is paramount to observe and appreciate the good work the council has done so far by rehabilitating the once hazardous Mandava public toilets, roads and the lighting system.
“What it means is that if we play our part as ratepayers, council in turn will offer better service delivery to the community,” Zvishavane Residents and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Constance Mudzviti said.