The Hwange Local Board (HLB) has resolved to take legal action against ratepayers to recover over $100 million in outstanding bills.
Ndumiso Mdlalose, the town secretary, said legal action was the last resort for the local authority after efforts to persuade defaulters to pay up hit a brick wall.
At the beginning of the year, HLB embarked on various strategies to recover the money, including door to door debt collection and sensitisation programmes by councillors. Said Mdlalose:
We have rate defaulters that have gone beyond 120 days, and we have issued them with final demand letters, and from our computation, we are owed more than $100 million in non-paid rates.
We exhausted all other means to try and convince the defaulters to pay.
We were then left with one option, taking the legal route because the challenge we have is that people are reluctant to pay.
Council said $14 million of the debt was accrued over the past three months, with Empumalanga Phase I, Mpumalanga’s DRC section and Baobab’s T-Section the suburbs with the highest number of defaulters.
Meanwhile, Fidelis Chima, Greater Whange Residents Trust coordinator, criticised the decision to take legal action against residents saying it was too harsh.
Most of Hwange’s residents were employees of the Hwange Colliery Company, which has been struggling to pay its workers and those that it laid off over the years.