The Harare Residents Trust says city residents should maintain their right to water regardless of moves by the city council to disconnect supplies to those who have not been paying their rates over the last three months.
The city council has started notifying residents of looming water cutoffs and tasked Mayor Bernard Munyenyeni to pursue high profile debtors including government, satellite towns, and business that own millions.
But the Harare Residents Trust says Harare must not come after residents in an effort to boost their revenue inflow, adding council must take each resident to court over non-payment and receive a court order authorizing the local authority to disconnect water supplies.
VOA spoke to Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba, who said residents have a right to water.
“We have always acted in good faith with the city of Harare when we engage them. We have always done that with the hope for progressive engagement and the resolution of disputes,” said Shumba.
He added, however, that every time the city runs out of money, residents become the main target for revenue collection.
“We are urging residents to reconnect their water whenever it has been disconnected by the City of Harare. Our argument is that the right to water cannot be compromised because of a dispute over payment,” said Shumba
He challenged the city to take any defaulting residents to court and seek a legal judgment over the matter before disconnecting any supplies.
Harare mayor Bernard Munyenyeni said without the necessary funding, the city will be unable to provide water to its residents.
“There is an argument that water is free and is a basic human right, but that basic right is only coming at a cost and it is that cost of purifying and distributing that water that we are trying to get from the consumers,” said Manyenyeni.
Last month business came to a halt at the Harare City Council headquarters as some residents besieged Town House demanding the immediate reconnection of water supplies in their households.
Some Harare residents mobilized by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), staged a peaceful demonstration at Town House carrying empty water buckets and demanding regular water supplies in their households.