Zanu (PF) Legislator for Dzivarasekwa, Omega Hungwe, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, yesterday threw her weight behind submissions by residents associations that the Harare City Council must stop its pre-paid water meter project until due process is followed.
The Harare City Council, which has rolled out pre-paid water meter projects in areas such as Sunningdale and Gen Lorne, contends that pre-payment of water would compel residents to pay for water consumption.
Residents’ associations are however of the view that pre-payment of water will take away citizens’ constitutional right to water.
Presenting evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government yesterday, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Chief Executive Officer, Mfundo Mlilo said that besides being undesirable, pre-paid water meters were unsustainable.
He described the pre-paid water meter project as a ploy by bigwigs to fatten their pockets.
“The City of Harare clearly lacks the institutional capacity to run the pre-paid water meter project and unlike in other countries where governments have funded the projects, in Zimbabwe it is the residents who would be expected to fund the pre-paid water meter project.
“We are saying pre-paid water meters must be stopped because due process has not been followed and they will take away residents’’ right to clean water. In other countries where pre-paid water meters have been installed, there is a lifeline that is given to residents but that is not the case in Zimbabwe,” said Mlilo.
Hungwe weighed in saying that access to clean, safe and portable water by residents must be prioritized ahead of anything else.
“One can live without electricity because there are various alternatives. But in the case of water, there is no alternative hence we need to ensure that we do not violate the right to water. In my view, pre-paid water meters must be stopped because residents will end up failing to access water especially given the tough economic conditions we are currently facing as a country,” said Hungwe.
Other issues presented before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee included the issue of Wellcash Debt Collectors who are reportedly terrorizing residents after they were engaged by the Harare City Council to collect money owed by residents.
Mlilo described the operations of the debt collectors as illegal adding that residents had lost cash and property to the debt collectors.