War over prepaid water meters

HARARE - City fathers in Masvingo and Harare are on a collision course with their residents who are resisting the installation of prepared water meters.

On Thursday evening, Harare residents demonstrated against the city’s plans to install prepaid water meters during a full council meeting at Town House.

In Masvingo, the Masvingo United Residents and Rate Payers’ Association (Murra), said introducing prepaid water meters was tantamount to privatising a basic human right.

Incensed residents in Harare charged that Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi had aggravated the matter by announcing in a weekly newspaper that the city would go ahead with the installation of prepaid meters even before consulting stakeholders.

Harare plans to carry out a pilot programme in the high density suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara, which ironically rarely get tap water.

Simbarashe Moyo, chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan Residents’ Forum told the Daily News prepaid meters should not be installed as they would add on to residents’ numerous woes that are fuelled by the worsening economic crisis.

“There is confusion at Town House, Mahachi goes to the papers and says prepaid meters are a sure thing then you tell us that HCC is still discussing the issue. Who should we believe?” Moyo said.

Moyo said already residents are failing to pay for water because the charges are incredulously too high.

“By installing these meters, you are mounting more financial pressure on residents who may end up not having access to water which we all know is a basic human right,” Moyo said.

Moyo said council must first deal with the availability of water as well as the quality before embarking on the controversial exercise.

“Already as a city, we have been found wanting in terms of disaster preparedness. This raises questions about the ability of the city to effectively monitor and manage a technology system of prepaid water meters.

“With the present threat of disease outbreaks in Harare, there is a real danger of cholera outbreaks as a result of water shortages that may result from prepayments,” Moyo said.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said prepaid water meters will not be installed until all stakeholders have been consulted.

“The City of Harare is still at a consultation stage and welcomes engagements with stakeholders on the proposed project.

“There are no prepaid meters that will be installed until this process has been completed,” Manyenyeni said.

Meanwhile, Masvingo City Mayor, Hubert Pfidze indicated that the cash-strapped council would also introduce the controversial project to preserve water.

“We think the system can be better in preserving water and we are thinking of doing a pilot project in one of our suburbs to see if it works then we can introduce to the whole city,” Pfidze said.

But Murra Coordinator, Anoziva Muguti said introducing pre-paid water meters was privatising water, which is a violation of some provisions of the Constitution.

“Water is a basic human right as enshrined in the Constitution, so it cannot be privatised. We are saying no to this plan and as residents we call upon the city council to address the issue of water availability first,” said Muguti.

Muguti said his organisation was already mobilising residents to stand up against the council’s plan.

Prepaid water meters have already caused a storm in Bulawayo and Gweru where residents are also against the move.

“We are very poor in these oldest high density suburbs like Mucheke A and we do think the idea will be feasible to us.

“It means that water will be a scarce commodity. We advise the council to drop that plan because it will bring more harm than good,” said Tracy Musakaruka of Mucheke in Masvingo.

Comments (8)

Yet city council shuts the water off for non payment and you have to queue to pay and get it reopened. Much easier to use your mobile or nearest garage to buy a prepaid voucher and reopen it immediately on your own. Also no water running zero payment to council. Be real and lets get going with the meters.

tiki - 28 March 2015

Majaira zvemahara, basic human right basic human right chii chachacho. Coucil water is not for free, period. We want prepaid meters that work, installed like yesterday. Taneta nema estimates emvura yatinenge tisina kushandisa kuno kuChi-Town

Zvakapresser - 28 March 2015

@ previous commentators, whilst water services have to be paid for, COH must ensure that at least 20 litres of water by at least 30 days are dispensed to every household on their COH household register and that backdated to May 2013 when the right to water was constitutionalized. Disconnecting water without a Court Order as what COH is doing is resorting to self help and COH was judicial advised not to do so as per the High Court judgment in Farai Mushoriwa vs. City of Harare (HC-4266-13). So when COH which should know and act better resort to self help contrary to Court Orders and Ministerial pronouncements and directives and in violation of constitutional rights, residents are free to also reconnect the water supplies on their own using the same self help measures that COH uses. That is why they are rushing to install prepaid water meters so that they can surreptiously violate the constitutional right to water. So Unless the P-PWM are programmed to dispense at least the water an average person needs per day or month (as per UN/WHO standards) for FREE, they are UNCONSTITUTIONAL! But the said free litreage, when the taps are dry or when it is not exhausted in that particular month, must continuously be carried forward to the next month until it has been used up as constitutional rights and the benefits thereof should not expire or deemed to expire.

Maxwell Christian - 28 March 2015

izvi zvakanakisa anoda mvura anotenga voucher asingade ogara hake zvemahara hapana kupopota everyday muchiti hatina mvura yamusngabhadhari kwete bharai prepaid ishasha mnhu wese hapana anosara ada mvura mariyako pamberi

jirimono - 29 March 2015

Prepaid meters are better. Izvozvi hatisisina problem nema estimates e ZESA, futi we are paying much less on prepaid than before. I personally go for the prepaid meters.

yesprepaid - 30 March 2015

I think the city councils must start with those interested.It seems the idea is good and might end up benefiting the residents.The issue which needs to be addressed is not of prepaid water meters but rather the incredulously high water charges and fixed water charges which one is obliged to pay even without using any drop of water.If I may ask, if the city of harare instals prepaid water meters in mabvuku and tafara which rarely gets tap water,will residents end up paying more or less?

mhere - 30 March 2015

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