Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter

THE Bulawayo City Council has started issuing letters of demand to residents to recover over $247 million owed through non-payment of rates and rentals.

The local authority is owed a total of $451 236 466 through non-payment of rates, with residential areas constituting a bulk of this amount.

Government owes $30 113 300, parastatals; $12 332 881 while industry and commerce owe BCC $161 504 265.

Speaking during a social dialogue on rates non-payment, organized by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) on Thursday, BCC finance manager, Mr Isaac Matare revealed that they had started issuing final letters of demands before taking the legal route in order to force residents to pay what they owe.

“I am sure residents in Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Luveve and other areas have started receiving the final letters of demand, this is part of our mechanism to recover what is owed to us. After this process we will then take the legal route of which all legal costs will be borne on the residents.

“However, we try to be as understanding as possible as council, such that we are saying when we issue these final demands, all we are saying is that the residents approach our offices so that a payment plan is agreed upon before we reach the unnecessary stage of taking legal action,” said Mr Matare.

He emphasized that their aim was not to reach the stage of auctioning resident’s houses but all they wanted was for residents to commit to paying what they owed to the local authority.