Civic group blames govt for water woes

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) says the country’s perennial water shortages are an indictment of miscalculations by relevant government institutions.

The organisation — which is a socio-economic justice coalition of civil society groups and social movements — said water developments in Harare and Bulawayo speak volumes about the “arrogance” of those in charge.

“Zimcodd is greatly appalled and concerned by the escalating water crisis in Harare and Bulawayo worsened by the recent arrogant moves by the Harare City Council to introduce pre-paid water meters to domestic consumers as a solution to the water crisis.

“Equally worrying are some of the steps taken to finance the revamping of water supply. Pre-paid water meters support a cost recovery approach which treats water as a commodity rather than a human right.

“In Bulawayo, the water woes have been worsened by the decommissioning of another dam exposing residents to a 72-hour water shedding and water rationing with stiff penalties that residents cannot afford.

“These sad developments dash our hopes for a permanent solution to the water woes after we welcomed the household debt cancellation in July 2013,” said Zimcodd programmes director Hopewell Gumbo.

Harare is currently producing about 450 mega litres of purified water against a demand of 1 200 mega litres a day while Bulawayo — according to its mayor Martin Moyo, is currently pumping between 94 to 110 mega litres against an actual demand of 140 mega litres.

Though Environment, Water and Climate minister Savior Kasukuwere ordered a 24-hour pumping programme from Mtshabezi Dam which has boosted water supplies to Bulawayo’s feeder dams from 5 000 cubic meters to 15 000 a day — Moyo says limited water sources are still the city’s major nightmare.

Gumbo said both Harare City Council’s recent announcements that it was considering prepaid water metres and a dodgy Chinese deal are raw eggs smashed on the faces of ratepayers.

“In many cases, they do not allow for safeguards, people are ‘simply cut off’ and there is no scope for procedural protection. They exacerbate emergencies. The introduction of pre-paid water meters negates the debt cancellation gain by multitudes of poor residents of Harare.

“We wish to condemn the recent unilateral acquisition of a loan from China without consultation of the residents of Harare.

“It is the citizens who are going to pay back the loan in one way or another and as such, adequate consultation should have been made prior to borrowing,” he said.

The Chinese Afro-Exim Bank extended a 10-year loan facility of $144 million to Harare, money which is already being used to rehabilitate the local authority’s water infrastructure installed before independence.

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