Residents of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, demonstrated and petitioned city fathers at Town House on Tuesday expressing serious concern over the city’s alleged move to attach and auction residents’ properties because of arrears going back to 2008.
The Harare Residents' Trust, which organized the demonstration, accused the council of failing to provide locals with clean water and other services.
In a petition to Local Government Minister Ignatious Chombo and the mayor, residents said they are "alarmed and saddened by the City of Harare’s issuing of summons and letters of final demands that have resulted in some people having their property attached and sold at auction floors".
The residents believe that the move has left "both the City of Harare and the victim poorer and wallowing in debt.”
They are calling on city leaders to write-off debts accrued before 2010 saying the "incomes of the majority of the residents are too low to even consider settling outstanding debts, meaning the City of Harare has no prospects of recovering outstanding debts from these impoverished residents.“
The residents further noted that continuing to charge residents interest rates of 10 percent on overdue accounts does not address the situation.
"This form of punishment has failed to enlist the support of ratepayers, therefore new strategies have to be explored, through positive dialogue and compromise rather than remain confrontational.”
Harare Residents Trust coordinator, Precious Shumba, told VOA that residents might consider legal action as dialogue efforts seem to be failing.
Responding, acting Harare Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto, said the local authority is set to review the petition.
Interview With Precious Shumba
Interview With Emmanuel Chiroto