September 13, 2016

Broke Zimbabweans in debt

Filed under: Feature,News — Nhaudzenyu @ 1:46 pm

By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI- Ambuya Ratidzai Bakasa of Chikangwe old suburb is a seventy five year old unemployed widow and vegetable vendor. She was recently shocked to receive three letters of demand on outstanding bills to pay over $1000.00 that must be settled within a 48 hours.
The final demand letters were from Karoi town council, Zimbabwe National Water Authority, (Zinwa) and local school, all demanding outstanding payment for the past two years.
She is another victim of none service providers ‘’chocking the nation’’. She is battling to make ends meet as a vegetable vendor at Old Salazi market stalls in Karoi town, 204 kilometers along Harare-Chirundu road.
Frustrated, she blames Zinwa workers in Shona, ‘’Vashandi veZinwa havana nyadzi kutipa masamanisi emvura isingabudi. Pano hapabudi mvura asi chavanongoda imari chete meaning (‘’It is unfortunate that Zinwa officials have the tenacity to issue 48 hour final demand although we have gone for years without running water’’)
Sad chapter
Mbuya Bakasa must raise $650.00 as demanded by Zinwa, $285.00 for council rentals and rates while school debt collectors are calling for payment plan on $225.00 owed for three orphans she is looking after.

This is yet another sad chapter of misery faced by majority of Zimbabweans due to social, political and economic challenges, without any possible solution from Zanu PF government that had a resounding victory after July 2013 elections.

Mbuya Bakasa’s wrinkled face registers an episode of despair due to cash crunch gripping the nation.

Ironically Zinwa are under fire for failure to rehabilitate worn out old pipes in major towns, besides their stance to recover debts.

Vicious circle

‘’We normally get water when monthly statements are due so that we pay’’ says 28 year old Bennilda Mutonga, a mother of two from Chiedza suburb.
On the other hand, nearly 200 of Karoi council workers face vicious circle with Zinwa demanding payment.
‘’It is unfortunate that we have not received salaries as some of the workers’ arrears date back to 2013. Some are being owed $5000.00 in arrears but Zinwa want money and it is a brutal circle for us. Management can only assist you financially when there is a funeral of relative. Karoi council is funeral fund’’ says a workers committee member, speaking on condition that he is not named.

However, outgoing council secretary Maxwell Kaitano blames rate payers.
‘’Creditors owe us $2 million. If it is recovered, we can easily pay workers arrears’’ says Kaitano.
Karoi small service shops secretary Hevison Mpinga disagrees with Kaitano’s suggestion saying the council is failing on service delivery, hence non-payment.
‘’There is no service from the council compared to demanded rentals and rates’’ says Mpinga.

Zinwa is a scandal

Mpinga also blames Zinwa for daylight robbery.
‘’Zinwa is a scandal because Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has expensive machinery including transformers and cables stretching for several hundreds of kilometers before we get electricity, we are not being charged $12.00 fixed charge monthly. This is rip off by Zinwa‘’, he says.

A Zinwa worker who declines to be named complains that they have not been paid salaries for five months.

‘’It is cruel for us as council is suing us. We are owed salaries five months’’, he says.
An airtime vendor Mathew Katura says he is battling to meet payment plan for Tel-One line pegged at $2500.00 dating back to 2009.
‘’ I cannot afford to raise that money”, he says

Another resident, Rhoda Rambanepasi blames lawyers and debt collectors as dubious middlemen for charging ridiculous fees.
‘’I owed the school $190.00 but I must pay $80.00 extra as administration fee. The action by lawyers and debts collectors is criminal. If I failed to get the little sum of money before where will I get shocking administration fees’’, frustrated Rambanepasi asks.
This is the reality gripping majority of Zimbabweans entangled in the web of poverty as most rely from food to mouth.

More apathy

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba suggests that even City of Harare cannot be spared either on non performing service providers nationally.
He blames former sunshine city management for raising salaries for seniors, but failing to improve on service delivery.
‘’There will be more apathy and negativity towards activities of public service providers. Policymakers must see that economic crisis has deepened to unprecedented levels. Residents may want to pay but there is no financial capacity’’ says Shumba in written response.

He adds that if 60-70 percent of population gets sued by service providers, the ‘’economy has virtually collapsed’’

‘’There is need for imminent debt cancellation given this level of indebtedness to service providers’’ adds Shumba.

He warns that this may invoke electorate anger ahead of 2018 elections.

Zinwa communications manager Marjorie Munyonga admits that they too are facing financial challenges from non paying clients impacting negatively on operations.
‘’We appeal to consumers to pay so that service delivery can improve. We are engaging debt collectors to boosts our revenue’’, she says in a statement.

Resign to fate

Mbuya Bakasa has no clue of what the future holds for her three grand children aged between 8 and fifteen years.
‘’Our councilor’s house has had no water for eight years and does not know when it will be restored. If a policymaker does not have a clue, do you expect old widow to know? The future is uncertain’’, she says.
As non service providers jostle to hand her ‘’final demand’’ summons, she is like many Zimbabweans saddled with debts has resigned to ruthless fate gripping the nation, 36 years after independence.
As the nation is kept guessing by the Government on when the economy may improve, Mbuya Bakasa, like the majority look like lost sheep in wilderness.


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