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NEARLY 400 houses and stands belonging to various debtors countrywide have been attached and auctioned at the instruction of banks and money lending institutions since last year, it has been learnt.

Analysts have since attributed this to the economic meltdown in the country and punitive interest rates the financial institutions charge clients.

According to statistics from the Sheriff of the High Court, at least 218 houses were attached in Harare, while 81 were executed in Bulawayo last year only.

In the first two months of 2015, the Sheriff attached 50 houses in Harare and 33 in Bulawayo resulting in the total figure of 382 being placed under the hammer.

The statistics come at a time when Holland Auctioneers of Bulawayo aertised for the sale of 30 immovable properties with 25 properties having been attached by various banks to clear some unpaid loans from defaulters.

The Bulawayo auction will be conducted on March 13 this year.

Central African Building Society is set to recover its debt through the auctioning of six properties, while CBZ Bank, Trust Bank and MBCA will sell three properties each on March 13.

Standard Chartered Bank, Tetrad Bank, Agribank, POSB and ZB Bank will benefit from the auction of one house each while Premier Banking Corporation will sell two properties.

Among the properties set for auctioning is a house that is being used by Zimbabwe Football Association in Bulawayo as provincial offices.

Economic analyst Mr Christopher Mugaga, said banks and other money lending institutions were overcharging the people.

He urged Government to intervene and protect the masses from “vultures” who charged unreasonable and illegal interest rates.

“Most banking and money lending institutions over-rely on collateral security ahead of cash-flows, capital and others. Interest rates are too high and in a harsh economy like ours, people end up losing their personal properties.

“Government is letting the people down by not protecting them against these vultures who charge strange and illegal interest rates for aances made.

“In fact, a Consumer Protection Bill must be put in place to protect the desperate masses who are falling prey to these vultures,” he said.

Another economist Mr Trust Chikohora, said the situation was shocking and that it was a reflection of the economy’s under performance.

“That is just a manifestation of the liquidity constraints in Zimbabwe. Business levels are very low.

“There is no cash in circulation and this is confirmed by cases of some workers going for months without pay. Some are even getting paid very late while several companies are closing down at alarming rates,” he said.

Mr Brains Muchemwa urged businesses and individuals to be disciplined and to avoid recklessness in borrowing funds.

“Most businesses and individuals have been, since 2009, contracting debt with the same speculative and reckless mentality of the Zimdollar era. Unfortunately the dollarised environment requires prudence and discipline in terms of managing business operations.

“Prior to 2009, there was consensus among private sector that high inflation, lack of foreign currency and price controls were the major economic ills and if these could be removed, private sector would prosper.

“Dollarisation, which eradicated these ills, has exposed further that indeed the major challenge that the private sector in Zimbabwe always faced all these years has been lack of innovation and recklessness. “Going forward, it would be prudent to avoid debt and when in real need, borrowing should finance income generating activities unlike situations that are currently obtaining where most of the debt sitting on balance sheets of corporates were contracted to pay off non-income generating activities,” he said.

Source : The Herald

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