Council re-engages debt collectors as revenues plunge

HARARE City Council has re-engaged a debt collection company it had cut ties with, following the plummeting of revenues in the past few months, amid indications that residents were reluctant to pay.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

In an advertisement published yesterday, council announced the re-engagement of Wellcash Debt Collectors from Thursday, with the mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, recently acknowledging that all was not well in terms of revenue collection.

“The City of Harare would like to advise residents and ratepayers that it has re-engaged Wellcash Debt Collectors with effect from August 10, 2017.

“Ratepayers are encouraged to comply with the payment plans they entered with Wellcash,” the statement read.

Council had terminated the relationship after some residents’ groups, such as Harare Residents’ Trust and Combined Harare Residents’ Association, complained over the debt collectors.

Minutes of a council meeting for March and April suggest that council had increased its revenue collection by at least $5 million due to debt collectors, but after the termination of the deal, revenue collection dropped significantly.

When the debt collectors were operating, residents would enter into payment plans in fear of being dragged to the courts or losing their property, but afterwards, the arrangements collapsed.

“Those who may not be able to fulfil their obligations are requested to visit Wellcash offices at their head office or respective districts to renew or renegotiate payments plans. Ratepayers are encouraged to make payment plans with the City of Harare to avoid debt collectors,” the statement read. “A payment plan that is adhered to does not attract interest charges.”

On average, council was collecting $13m and Manyenyeni had to appeal, saying “all those who supported the disengagement of debt collectors should be the loudest in revenue collection calls”.