via Harare disconnects water supply to non-paying residents | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The Harare City Council says that it is in the process of disconnecting water supply to residents who have not settled outstanding bills.
Affected areas include the high density suburbs of Glen Norah, Highfield, Glen View, Budiriro and parts of Dzivaresekwa.
Defending the move to the Herald on Monday, council spokesman Leslie Gwindi said that residents had been given a debt write-off reprieve in July, and should be in a position to now pay up for the latest bills received.
“The bills are manageable and people should keep up with their payments to enable us to execute our mandate without problems.
“We even placed adverts warning them against defaulting because at the end of the day they need potable water and for us to provide that they should pay up,” Gwindi said.
But some residents told the press that the council was missing the point, saying water was not being supplied consistently or constantly, even to those whose bills were paid up.
“What we have are the bills, but we spend days without the water and we wonder what they want us to pay for. Even if people settle those bills, they are still going to be disappointed because there will be no water,” Glen Norah resident Tinashe Tiki told the Herald Monday.
Combined Harare Residents Association co-ordinator Simbarashe Moyo said the authority was being “insensitive” and blind to the possibility that some residents genuinely cannot afford to settle their bills.
“This is an insensitive move on the part of the local authority. They may be trying to send a message to residents but the manner in which they are going about it is not people-centred.
“It does not take into account why defaulters have failed to pay. For example, we have more than 80% unemployment in the country, we have child-headed families, and several vulnerable groups including pensioners.
“So any disconnection that fails to take into account all these factors is improper,” Moyo added.
Moyo said while Harare’s water supply has not been consistent, disconnecting residents “completely shut them out” of the provision chain – and the High Court had ruled that this was illegal.
“Water is a basic human right, which is synonymous with life itself. Disconnecting water forces people to resort to unprotected water sources, thereby exposing them to waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid,” Moyo said.
Meanwhile, the Standard newspaper reported Sunday that water pumped into Harare homes “is not fit for drinking purposes and could soon cause an outbreak of waterborne diseases.”
According to the newspaper, a water sample drawn from a source in Mbare had three times the acceptable levels of micro-organisms.
But despite the Standard’s findings, the authority insisted through Engineer Christopher Zvobgo, that Harare’s water was safe to drink.
Just before the July 31st election, the council was forced to cancel a household debt of $330 million by local government minister Ignatius Chombo, in what many observers said was a ZANU PF vote buying gimmick. The directive severely affected revenue inflows for the country’s 92 local authorities.
Harare needs at least $100,000 for a day’s supply of water purification chemicals, which translates to $3 million per month. The council has indicated that unless residents keep up with their payments, it will continue to struggle to provide potable water