Municipality must come clean on debt collection services

Some residents and interested stakeholders from Chitungwiza are up in arms with the municipality following contradicting statements on the council position regarding the termination of external debt collection service providers. The municipality unilaterally hired Mangwana and Partners as debt collectors in 2014 against calls by stakeholders not to engage external debt collectors. Stakeholders preferred a situation whereby the municipality used its internal credit control unit to pursue defaulting ratepayers. It seems the law firm did not do enough to justify its perpetual existence in Chitungwiza during the era of the Madzudzo Pawadyira-led commission.

Early this year, the municipality then engaged another debt collection firm, Wellcash Private Limited to deliver the same services that Mangwana and Partners had been hired to deliver. The Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association (CAMERA) maintained its previous stance and led the resistance of the engagement of debt collectors by the municipality. Again, the municipality had its way and imposed debt collectors on the residents and ratepayers.

Last week, the council announced during the 2019 pre-budget consultative meetings that it had terminated the contracts of these debt collection firms. The termination was received with mixed feelings by stakeholders considering that initially no one welcomed external debt collectors to Chitungwiza. Some form of surprise also engulfed some stakeholders since these debt collecting firms had running contracts with the local authority. Counter-accusations between the municipality and the two debt collection firms surfaced with threats of the municipality being sued for breaching running contracts.

Apart from the assurance that the municipality had terminated the services of the two firms, some sections of residents this week continued to receive notices of being in default of their payments and orders to visit Mangwana and Partners offices. The notices are even threatening the recipients with legal action. This is the major cause for alarm and despondency within the Chitungwiza municipal area since it is no longer clear who should be doing what and at what moment? It seems the town is now a free for all platform.

It is against this background that CAMERA is challenging the municipality to clarify the official and correct position regarding debt collection services so that stakeholders know what is obtaining. Residents and ratepayers risk dealing with unauthorized persons or legal action being wrongfully taken against them if this is not cleared. CAMERA is interested in the improvement of the state of service delivery hence knowing the status of the contracts of these debt collection firms and whether council won’t be prejudiced for breaching contracts is critical, especially in an event of any breach.

Source: Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association (CAMERA)