via Govt okays prepaid water meters – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 22, 2015
THE government has given the nod for the installation of pre-paid water meters in all urban centres, setting the stage for a bruising fight with residents and human rights organisations resisting the move and describing it as “anti-social”.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere made the disclosure during Parliament’s question-and-answer session last Wednesday.
“Water provision on its own requires somebody to pay for it,” Kasukuwere said. “We agree that water is a human right, but it is the transmission that must be paid for. So the question of prepaid water meters is really meant to support councils and service providers to have enough capacity to service the communities with water.”
During the same session, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo weighed in saying: “Yes, water is a right, but the water that we get in our homes is conveyed 89km and you need power. It is conveyed through pipes, is stored in various tanks and is purified before you get it, so there is some cost to it.”
Chombo added: “If an individual in any local authority for that matter in any part of the country, regardless of who the provider of that water is, has difficulties or challenges in making payment for the water that they have consumed, I advise that they visit the provider, make payment arrangements so that they can stagger their payments.
“I would say 100% of the local authorities are amenable to that idea and situation. We should be responsible enough to go and make a payment plan with our local authorities until our situation has improved and then we can pay some more.”
Residents and human rights organisations in Harare and Bulawayo have threatened to demonstrate against their local authorities demanding that the prepaid meters programme be shelved until after further consultations. But Kasukuwere said the government was working hard to increase water supply in local authorities across the country with assistance from multilateral institutions.
“As a ministry working with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other donor partners, we have been able to resuscitate a number of water supply programmes and I am sure we witnessed the Vice-President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) commissioning the Mutare Water Works a few months ago,” he said.
“We also went to Masvingo. So there is indeed an ongoing programme aimed at ensuring that we get the cities to have sufficient water. That includes the City of Harare where a $150 million facility from China has been used to bolster the supply of water to Harare.”
Kasukuwere said the government’s new thrust was provision of adequate and clean water to curb the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera.