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Harare Residents Reject Proposed Pre-Paid Water Meters

Bulawayo residents que for water in a city that faces perennial water woes.

The Harare Metropolitan Residents’ Forum today teamed up with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and other civic organizations to oppose a proposal by the Harare City Council to install pre-paid water meters in households.

Such proposals have been rejected by Bulawayo residents, who claim that pre-paid meters are difficult to manage and won’t end serious water shortages.

Harare Metropolitan Residents’ Forum spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo, who is also linked to the Chitungwiza Residents Trust, told a news conference that the proposed pre-paid water meter system violates many of their fundamental rights provided in the country’s constitution.

Khumalo said installing pre-paid water meters would negatively affect the city’s disaster preparedness, adding that the local authority does not have the ability to monitor and manage such technology.

He noted that residents were not consulted before the project was formulated.

He said the pre-paid water meter system would be out of reach for many local people who are currently struggling to make ends meet due to the current harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe. The lowest state worker is paid at least $300 per month, a figure that is far below the country’s breadline, estimated at more than $550 a month for an urban family of six.

To boost the protest against the pre-paid meters, Harare Residents Trust co-chairperson Simbarashe Moyo, who also works with the Combined Harare Residents’ Association, said inhabitants of Harare Metropolitan province would embark on several protest actions.

Reacting to these issues being raised by residents, Harare mayor Benard Manyenyeni told Studio 7 his council was still consulting its major stakeholders before implementing the project.

But there seems to be some discord at Town House as Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi says the project will go on, starting with a pilot project in Mabvuku and Tafara high density suburbs while a full council meeting yesterday resolved to put the project on hold.

Bulawayo residents are also resisting a move by the local authority to introduce the pre-paid water meters.