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Residents Besiege Town House, Demand Access to Water

A representative of the commuter omnibus operators, Shem Mberi, said they would co-operate with council in its endeavors to decongest the city. (Photo: Harare Residents Trust)

Business came to a halt at the Harare City Council headquarters Friday 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 demanding regular water supplies in their households.

Some of the demonstrators, who were wearing white T-shirts inscribed "Water is our priority”, forced their way into some offices at the city council's headquarters resulting in council workers failing to perform their duties for the better part of the day.

One of the demonstrators, Warren Park resident Urudo Chivamba, said inhabitants of his neighborhood had gone for several days without the precious liquid.

Evernice Munando, who works with CHRA, told Studio 7 that some suburbs in Harare such as Mabvuku and Tafara have gone for several years without a drop of water while authorities continue to bill the residents.

Several cases of water-borne diseases have been reported in those areas due to the lack of water, according to Munando.

CHRA director, Mfundo Mlilo, said authorities are failing to meet daily water requirements for the former sunshine city.

Mlilo said some residents are now boycotting the payment of bills as a way of trying to force authorities to provide water in their households.

Chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum, Israel Mabhowo, said residents are also not happy with the commercialization of water.

For its part, the government says its coffers are empty to ensure efficient services such as adequate water provision.

But Chivamba says authorities are not setting their priorities right.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni later came out of his office to tell the residents that normal water supplies would only resume in October after the refurbishment of the Morton Jaffrey Water Works has been completed.

After addressing the protestors, the mayor then led the protestors to a water point where he poured water into the empty buckets that were being carried by the demonstrators.

This followed complaints by the residents that water was only available at Town House yet their taps were running dry. Manyenyeni also called on council employees to ensure that council boreholes had water round the clock.