Harare residents reject pre-paid water meters

via Residents reject pre-paid water meters by Dalpine Tagwireyi The Standard September 29, 2013

RESIDENTS of Harare have rejected the introduction of pre-paid water meters by the Harare City Council, saying the move was a recipe for a health disaster as more people will succumb to water-borne diseases.

The Harare City Council last week announced plans to embark on a project to install pre-paid water meters, starting with the Avenues area, to give consumers power to manager their own consumption.

The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) rejected the installation of pre-paid water meters, saying the move was a profit-making project for the local authority which would not address the residents’ needs.

“Pre-paid water meters represent the total hijacking of a human right by city bureaucrats who are only concerned with increasing revenue inflows instead of addressing its billing system, which has given residents nightmares,” said HRT director, Precious Shumba.

“We reject this apparent profit- making project in its totality, and will only express a different view once we have sufficient information on the benefits that will accrue to residents.”

Harare Water director, Eng Christopher Zvobgo, said the project was aimed at encouraging residents to pay their bills.

Council intends to install 1 000 pre-paid water meters in the Avenues and later expand to other suburbs, depending on the success of the pilot project.

Shumba said the introduction of prepaid water meters should be viewed as part of the measures by city management to privatise the council’s water department, in a move that will replace workers with technology.

There are fears that there would soon be an outbreak of water-borne diseases, such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid as residents resort to unprotected water sources because they would not be able to afford the cost of running water.

Over 4 000 people, mostly from Harare, succumbed to cholera in 2008/9, after going for several days without running water.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) and other relevant stakeholders on Friday held a consultative meeting in Kuwadzana where residents rejected the local authority project.

The project is set to be launched in the suburb soon.

Doreen Chigova of Kuwadzana 5 said the community needed more boreholes, rather than pre-paid meters.

“The government should be installing more boreholes because we don’t have enough water points at the present moment, our dire need is water but they want to introduce irrelevant meters, we are already suffering with the Zesa pre-paid meters,” she said.

The power utility (Zesa) early this year introduced pre-paid meters, and as a result some households have no power because they cannot afford it. They have resorted to using firewood poached from peri-urban areas.

Mirirayi Shoko of Kuwadzana 1 suburb said: “This is an unfair imposition and we as consumers were not consulted first.”

“It will be very difficult because some of us only get money at the end of any given month, hence if I use up my budgeted consumption, what then will I do?”



  • comment-avatar
    zimbo 9 years ago

    pre paid is the way to go – no one should be exempt.

    • comment-avatar
      Promise Chitsidzo 9 years ago

      Think about this again. This is Water not Electricity. In my book while your argument might hold with reference to the latter, it cannot for the former. Think carefully about this & you will see where the residents are coming from.

  • comment-avatar

    water must nt be pre paid cauz ther wil b a healthy hazard.cauz water is a need and power is wants

  • comment-avatar
    Armando 9 years ago

    Wow. It’s catastrophic for these people to have their pockets gouged. International sanctions on the whole of Africa equal economic terrorism on it’s cities and communities. Economic terrorism is the recipe for chaos in this world.

  • comment-avatar
    Wiseman 9 years ago

    It all dwells with the evolution of Public Administration; whether you view it as a fund raising gimmick or not, you will pay either way. Either you pre-pay for quality water or shun the prepaid meter and still pay for taking bad water by health outbreaks coz its true you have identified it as a inflow generating project and it is for the Public Sector world wide is moving from being just a spender of the tax payer’s income and another expense unit on the Gvt budget to being able to raise funds to run its own operations independently….if the council is to achieve its world class status for the City of Harare, thats the way to go……

  • comment-avatar
    Chakhaza 9 years ago

    Residents wants free water with good quality. Without revenue, Gov. can’t replace the infrastrure to water treatment,it will result in bad infrasture and bad quality water year after year… So called vicious cycle. The point is to be reasonable water price. Residents can afford it and Gov. are happy to profit from it.

  • comment-avatar
    Councilor Silas Chigora 8 years ago

    I appreciate the need for residents to pay their bills on time so as to fund the services that they so much need, eg roads maintenance, water delivery, public lighting, refuse removal and so on.Water is a basic need and is the only thing all living organisms especially humans can live on and there is no substitute. When you run out of Zesa power or you dont have money to buy it, you can substitute it with , charcoal, firewood or gas which is cheaper,but what about water? What is the substitute? imagine after a long tiresome day trying to make ends meet you get home and you are told there is no water! The Zimbabwe constitution has classified water as a human right which should be provided to all whether one has money or not. It therefore defies the spirit of humanism to try and privatize, rather to make water available to only those who have money to buy it. Those who are unable are left out and are relegated to being destitutes. It limits the number of toilet flushes,how many times one bathes,wash dishes and denies people their rights to health and to live a dignified lifestyle as people will be trying to save. Instead it should be the government assisting with funds or cheap loarns to local authorities so that they provide adequate,safe and constant water supply to residents.The roll out programme will eventually costs the council $27million, money that can be used else where to improve service delivery.Does the council have that kind of money now?

    What about gvt depts and other public institutions like hospitals and schools how are they going to be incorporated?. In fact it is these institutions who continue to enjoy free services without paying. Is the council really going to install pre paid meters at these premises and do you see a gvt dept having to pre pay water? Besides this is not a priority and the money that is earmarked for buying these pre paid water meters i,e $27million should go and service roads.

    These are my private views