Residents intensify campaign against debt collectors

WARD 20 residents from Tafara have intensified their campaign against Wellcash Debt Collectors (Pvt) (Ltd) who were recently re-engaged by the Harare City Council to recover money owed by residents.

The Harare City Council had in May 2017 terminated the contract of the debt collectors following immense pressure from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA).

CHRA argued that the operations of the debt collectors were illegal as there is no Act of Parliament governing their operations.

The debt collectors were also charging an extra 10 percent on top of what the residents owe council and were also issuing threats of attachment of property.

In some instances, the debt collectors failed to remit the money they would have collected to council.

Following efforts by CHRA, Harare Mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni in May 2017 wrote to acting Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube instructing her to terminate the contract of Wellcash Debt Collectors saying their operations were “brutal and arrogant”.

The directive by Mayor Manyenyeni came as a huge relief for Harare residents but the victory was short lived after council early this month (September 2017) re-engaged Wellcash Debt Collectors.

Currently, the debt collectors are issuing out letters of final demand and threatening Harare residents with various actions in a bid to compel them to pay directly to them rather than to council.

In light of the challenge, CHRA has intensified efforts to educate Harare residents on the need to resist Wellcash Debt Collectors and instead approach council directly for payments.

On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, CHRA held a community meeting in Tafara, Ward 20 during which residents vowed to resist the debt collectors whom they described as “extortionists and daylight robbers”.

The residents said it was unacceptable for the Harare City Council to unleash debt collectors yet the local authority was failing dismally as far as effective service delivery is concerned.

The residents also pointed out that corruption by council officials, rather than non-payment, was behind poor service delivery in Harare.

Failure to prioritize service delivery was also pointed out as a factor behind the poor state of affairs in Harare. The residents said it was irrational for the Harare City Council to allocate more than $5 Million to sports development at a time service delivery is at its low.

CHRA is on record that sport has been turned into a looting platform by council bigwigs and this has been justified by assertions from Mayor

Manyenyeni that council expenditure on sports is shrouded in controversy.

“Council has no basis to send debt collectors to demand money or attach our property here. We have gone for years without water and the council has also failed on refuse collection and they do not even attend to sewer bursts yet they expect us to pay when they are not providing services,” said a resident.

Another resident said, “What these council officials know best is to buy expensive cars and pay each other hefty salaries and allowances and after that, they blame non-payment by residents for poor service delivery in Harare. We will resist those debt collectors because there is no basis for them to demand money in that manner.”

The Ward 20 residents vowed to mobilize and educate each other on the need to disregard Wellcash Debt Collectors.

CHRA is currently engaging human rights lawyers with a view of taking legal action against Wellcash Debt Collectors.

Harare Mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni is on record saying that council has “no moral ground” to unleash debt collectors on residents.

According to Mayor Manyenyeni, council is allocating $10 Million out of the $12 Million it is collecting monthly to “overpaid salaries” and this has resulted in service delivery suffering.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)