CHITUNGWIZA residents face the threat of being made homeless for failing to pay debts for as little as US$200 in utility bills, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
The Chitungwiza Municipacity has engaged law firm Mangwana & Partners to collect its debt from residents. Several residents in Zengeza have received notices of inspection to attach property and eviction.
Some of the residents who received the notifications are elderly people whose debts range from US$259 to US$315 and they are now panicking after being told that their houses are going to be attached.
A notice of inspection received by a resident in Zengeza 3 last Wednesday from Mangwana & Partners seen by the Independent read: “Following your failure to respond to the final letter of demand for you to settle outstanding municipality arrears, this letter serves to inform you that the debt collectors from Mangwana & Partners have duly inspected your house and its valuables for the purpose of taking legal action.
“You are therefore advised to immediately visit Seke district or the head office to make payment. If you fail to do so, the messenger of court will come to collect your identified property for sale including your house. You have been warned!!!”
The Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association (Chipra) programmes manager Admire Mutize in a statement said they were alarmed and dismayed by the “thoughtless and provocative stance” adopted by the municipality.
“The notices bearing the letterhead of the municipality’s debt collectors — Mangwana & Partners — and are being delivered by groups of badly-mannered young men in suits who are demanding access to private homes on the pretext that they are ‘inspecting valuables for attachment,” said Mutize.
“The brash manner in which these notices are being distributed, the threatening language and terms in which they are written and the misleading message that the messenger of court will come to collect your identified property for sale including your house is an affront to the rights and dignity of residents of Chitungwiza.”
Chipra condemned the insensitivity and lack of empathy displayed by the municipality by forcing the elderly, the unemployed, other indigent people and orphans at a time when the whole of Zimbabwe is facing increasing economic pressures and tight liquidity.
Mutize said: “The threats are being taken seriously by the residents and understandably, an epidemic of nervous conditions is spreading among the recipients, the majority of whom are old women or pensioners. The threats of eviction may force desperate residents to sell their hard-earned property to unscrupulous dealers to pay off debts owed to council.”
Chipra called on all affected Chitungwiza residents to ignore the “notices of inspection to attach” and report to the police anyone demanding access to their “bedrooms”.
“The affected residents have rights to own property and should use the legal system to their advantage by filing “notice to defend” any lawsuit registered by the municipality against them in any court of law,” said Chipra.