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Residents of Harare, Zimbabwe, Cry Foul as City Shuts Off Water for Nonpayment

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Harare City Council has started disconnecting water supplies to residents who have not paid their bills, but this has drawn a sharp reaction from local organizations representing taxpayers who say service has been abysmal

Zimbabweans living in Harare, the capital, face water cutoffs by the municipality for non-payment of water rates even though many of them in the city's densely populated suburbs have had irregular water service for years.

Harare City Council has started disconnecting water supplies to residents who have not paid their bills, but this has drawn a sharp reaction from local organizations representing taxpayers, as Irwin Chifera reports.

Elsewhere, the Ministry of Water Resources, Development and Management is launching a national action committee on water to push ahead a campaign to renovate water and sanitation systems across the country.

The committee will work with government agencies, the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF, civil society groups and international donors to reconstruct the national infrastructure for drinking water and sewage removal.

Executive Director Nomathemba Neseni of the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, in attendance at the launch this week, said discussions at the meeting examined progress since the end of the major cholera epidemic of 2008-2009, whose total cases approaching 100,000 claimed more than 4,200 lives.

Since then, some 25 deaths have occurred from about 1,000 new cases.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara spoke at the launch calling for the private sector to get involved, especially in the rural areas. UNICEF says more than 60 percent of rural hand pumps are out of order.

Neseni told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that her organization has seen progress in a number of districts that were hit hard by cholera in 2008 and 2009 including Chegutu, Zaka and Chipinge.

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