UMZINGWANE Rural District Council and Esigodini tenants are currently battling with the local authority over ownership of their leased properties.
BY TALENT GUMPO
The tenants expressed discontent over Umzingwane RDC, which recently evicted them from their shops for failure to settle rental arrears.
A relative of one of the affected shop owners, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said council claimed it is owed up to $1 200 which the tenant offered to pay in instalments, but the parties failed to reach common ground.
“My grandfather who was renting a shop was given a two-day notice before being evicted in February. We were owing council $1 200 which we offered to pay in instalments. Council wanted us to pay $200 each month, but in this economy, who can afford to pay that much every month,” the relative said.
He said the local authority went on to lease the property to another tenant identified as Sam, who purportedly has close links with the district council chief executive officer.
“The shop was given to Sam and the debt was cancelled and they never bothered us about the money after we left the shop,” he said.
He said the axe also fell on another shop owner, a disabled man who was also in arrears.
Umzingwane RDC chief executive officer, Ndumiso Mpofu said the tenants in question failed to own up and pay their debts, hence, the move to evict them.
“If they had been paying, we were not going to have a problem with them, but, as a council, we need money to pay our obligations. If one owes us huge sums of money, it’s a clear sign that they cannot afford to pay so they have to leave,” he said.
Mpofu said the properties were leased and such properties can be repossessed upon failure to pay rentals by the sitting tenants.
“The shop was not a family shop, but the occupants treated it as such. They passed it on from one family member to another and you cannot do that with leased properties,” he added.