Masvingo residents have come out guns blazing against threats by city council to unleash debt collectors on them over unpaid bills at a time when authorities are failing to provide a reliable water supply.
Speaking during a recent service delivery monitoring meeting organised by the Masvingo Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) at Mucheke Hall, residents questioned why the council continued to target them when they owe smaller amounts than what is owed by government departments.
Residents last week received letters with a seven-day ultimatum to pay up their debts or face the full wrath of debt collectors.
Residents, however, say the move is unjustified since they rarely receive water owing to inadequate pumping capacity now worsened by severe power cuts.
“This is just not fair, they want to be heavy-handed with small debtors yet they are letting those who owe millions get away with it. We are not receiving water in our tapes but they want to force us to pay bills,” said Tracy Musakaruka of Ward 1.
Other residents said council must send the debt collector to the army, police and prisons services which owe close to $30 million in unpaid water bills.
“We think it’s noble that the council focus its attention in recovering huge debts from government institutions and security forces like the army and the police. We know they owe big time but they are treated with kiddies’ gloves,” complained Tapiwa Magura.
MURRA programmes manager, Esther Nyambiya said while the organisation has always encouraged residents to pay their bills, it will not shy away from criticising selective application of rules.
“We always remind our members to pay their dues so that council delivers, but we are concerned when council decides to torment our members only for unpaid debts. We condemn that,” Nyambiya said.
Mayor Collen Maboke and Ward 1 Cllr Selina Maridza, who were invited to the meeting, failed to turn up despite having confirmed attendance.
Council argues that it needs to use debt collectors as residents allegedly do not want to pay what they owe.