By Staff Reporters
A grouping of Civic Society organisations in Bulawayo are pushing ahead with plans to block the installation of prepaid water meters in the high density suburb of Cowdray Park.
The organisations have organised a peaceful march for Friday in the Central Business District with a view to handing over a petition from residents to council officials at the local authority’s offices at the Large City Hall.
The local authority plans to roll out prepaid meters in the city, starting with a pilot run in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle area.
In October, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate instructed local authorities to introduce prepaid water meters in their respective cities and towns to increase revenue collection, despite objections from residents and civic society organisations.
Bulawayo mayor, Councillor Martin Moyo was quoted in the local media confirming receiving the directive and urging residents to accept the prepaid water meters as they will help the city improve on revenue collection.
In a joint press statement, the organisations said the protest march will be begin at Basch Street terminus popularly known as ‘Egodini’ and will proceed to the Large City Hall to hand over a petition to local authority officials.
“Based on research on what happened after introduction of prepaid water meters in many parts of Africa, the participating organisations’ position is that prepaid water meters are not suitable as a water management system in Zimbabwe. In terms of the research, the gadgets led to an outbreak of cholera in Madlebe in KwaZulu Natal, leading to loss of life, and seriously undermined the right to water in many poor communities.
“It is the organisations’ contention that similar problems would be faced in Bulawayo if the local authority goes ahead with its plans to install the gadgets,” the statement read in part.
The organisations contend that prepaid water meters lead to social disintegration and regression of women’s gains in gender equality.
“Consultations in Bulawayo have also revealed that most residents are against the move to introduce prepaid water meters. The campaign thus seeks to encourage the city fathers to rescind the decision to introduce the gadgets. It also seeks to raise awareness on the issue of prepaid water meters and begin a sustained debate on it so that the views of residents are heard,” read the statement.
In June, Cowdray Park residents demonstrated against the Bulawayo City Council’s proposal to install prepaid water meters in the suburb. The demonstration was attended by more than 200 people made up of Cowdray Park residents and members of various non-governmental organisations led by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association.
Organisations that are participating in the Anti-Prepaid Water Meter Campaign include the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ), Radio Dialogue, Bulawayo Agenda, the National Youth Development Trust, the Women’s Institute of Leadership Development, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Ibhetshu LikaZulu, the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Enterprises (ZCIEA), Victory Siyanqoba, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, PTUZ, Intsha.com, Christian Legal Society amongst others.