By Leopold Munhende
NEWLY elected Mbare legislator Starman Chamisa has blamed his predecessor Tendai Savanhu (Zanu PF) of pursuing destructive politics through encouraging occupants of Matapi Flats in the suburb to abandon their rate payment obligations.
This comes after the Harare City Council has moved to lock out some residents of a block of flats due to none payment of bills.
Elected on an MDC Alliance ticket during the just ended elections, Chamisa told NewZimbabwe.com that Savanhu had tried to solicit for votes through false claims accommodation in the flats was for free.
“The previous MP had told them that these houses are free and no bills should be paid. So, council decided to lock the houses as it needs that money for service delivery.
“Savanhu actually promised to continue this and he had it all over his campaign posters; fortunately people are slowly getting to understand the situation and some are paying,” said Chamisa.
Mbare MP Starman Savanhu
Savanhu was MP for the populous Harare constituency between 2013 and 2018.
There are reports that some of the occupants have not paid a single cent since the blanket debt write-off proclamation by then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo on the eve of the July 2013 elections.
City of Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme said council had warned defaulting residents of the impending move to lock up their homes adding that there has been some positive response from some affected residents who have begun honouring their debts.
“They were not paying their municipal bills so after that closure, the majority have paid and some have made payment plans which they should honour.
“They have always been warned. We have been doing this for some time because we need the money for service delivery which can only be achieved if those people pay,” said Chideme.
Residents of Matapi complained that council was demanding bills yet it was also neglecting its own obligations of providing basic services such as repairs on broken sewer pipes, something that has placed their lives in constant danger from diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
“Sometimes you find children playing near raw sewerage ponds; it is not their fault because they are just kids. They do not see anything wrong with that.
“Council has been called countless times to fix these burst sewer pipes with no positive response.
“I am sure they will only plan to come when there is a cholera outbreak like just been witnesses in Budiriro,” said an elderly woman who resides in one of the Matapi Hostels.
Harare is currently gripped by a cholera outbreak widely blamed on council’s failure to invest in sewer reticulation systems.
The disease has already claimed atleast 49 lives, according to authorities.