City of Harare says it is considering naming and shaming top 100 debtors who owe the authority various amounts of money in unpaid rates.
The move came at the time there has been reports that the ruling ZANU-PF party owes the city more than US$25 million.
City of Harare recently announced that it is owed in excess of ZWL$5.5 billion in unpaid rates, which they said has contributed to compromised service delivery.
Posting on Twitter, City of Harare said the top debtors includes companies, high riding individuals and churches.
“We are soon publicising names of top 100 municipal debtors. Include top companies, high riding individuals and churches. Council owed over ZWL 5.5 billion. Service delivery heavily compromised”, said Harare.
In an interview with Open Council, Council spokesperson Michael Chideme, said they have forced to resort to naming and shaming as it has worked before adding that since they announced there has been some movement with big debtors making some payments.
It has worked before and we are sure that it will also work again, said Chideme.
Asked when they hope to release the names, Chideme said they are finalising their lists, which will be made public anytime soon.
However, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Director, Loreen Mupasiri dismissed the naming and shaming approach saying non-payment of bills was a peaceful protests by residents who are fed up by City of Harare’s lack of transparency in budget formulation and expenditure.
“In our engagements with residents they raised three issues that they feel City of Harare should address, first the continued use of billing estimates and residents are saying they want to pay rates that are commensurate with services offered.
“The other issue is budget formulation which is not inclusive then the other issue is budget expenditure which is not transparent, because council has failed to answer how they are using money collected from residents which would have helped in increasing transparency at Town House.
“So this is not a useful approach because residents feel that 95 percent of their grievances have not been addressed so they end up saying why should we continue to pay”, said Mupasiri.
Community Water Alliance (CWA) Coordinator, Hardlife Mudzingwa concurred with Mupasiri saying naming and shaming would not work as some of the people have proved over the years that they have no shame.
“Do they have shame, some of them have done worse things to even be bothered by their names being published,” said Mudzingwa.
The ruling Zanu PF has been accused of hypocrisy by the MDC-Alliance, which claims that it is paralysing operations at its led Harare City Council as it has a $25 million debt in rates.
MDC national executive member Sessel Zvidzai allegedly claimed on social media that Zanu PF instead of accusing the opposition of having run down the urban councils it should pay what it owes as that was crippling service delivery.
The MDC has also described as hogwash claims that they were behind land invasions in urban areas as evidence on the ground showed that most land barons belong to Zanu PF.
A council top official who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation confirmed that Zanu PF owes millions to Harare.
-Open Council Harare/ Agencies