Council threatens legal action over bills

Council threatens legal action over bills
Published: 16 July 2018
The Masvingo City Council has given residents with outstanding water bills dating up to five years, a seven-day ultimatum to pay or risk legal action.

The move has been met with stiff resistance by residents' representative groups and lawyers who want to challenge council's plans in the courts.

Mayor councillor Hubert Fidze last week warned that his council was planning legal action after residents failed to respond to several warnings urging them to settle their bills. Councillor Fidze said city fathers have no option, but to take action against residents refusing to "play ball".

"We have warned residents before, but they did not respond to our letters of demand and we are left with no other option than to take this move (legal action).

"We solely rely on residents payments and if they do not pay for services, we have nowhere to get funds for chemicals to treat water," said Mr Fidze.

However, Masvingo United Ratepayers and Residents 'Alliance (MURRA) spokesperson Mr Godfrey Mtimba condemned council's decision saying the local authority should first improve service delivery.

"We condemn council's behaviour in the strongest terms because they are not delivering water to residents, we want a situation where we pay and they deliver, it should not be one-sided," said Mr Mtimba.

He urged residents not to panic over the letters of demand, but to pay their water bills as usual and also to try and clear their debts by agreeing to payment plans as everyone was aware of the economic challenges obtaining in the country.

Meanwhile, a prominent lawyer, Mr Collen Maboke, who is also eyeing Masvingo Urban's Ward 2 council seat on an MDC Alliance ticket, has filed a response to council on behalf of 40 residents in his ward who are facing legal action over unpaid water bills.

"We have 40 residents who have been given letter of demand and I will be representing in responding to council.

"The move is an issue of harassing the electorate, it should have been done before elections, and also some debts are backdated to 2010, but Government ordered some of those bills to be written off in 2013. It is also worrying that in most cases council was estimating bills without collecting meter readings," said Mr Maboke.

The legal practitioner in his response on behalf of affected residents wants council to show the origins of the water bills by showing their transnational history dating back to five years ago.
- the herald
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