By Mark Mhukayesango
GWERU, August 19, 2015- RESIDENTS have blasted the Revenue Enhancement Committee (REC)
for disconnecting water in the Midlands capital at will in the past few weeks as the team aims
at raising enough money to pay disgruntled workers who have not been
paid for the past 2 months.
REC has been disconnecting water supplies in Mkoba, Senga, Nehosho,
among other suburbs for arrears as little as $50.
Residents who spoke to Radio VOP expressed dismay at the rampant water
disconnection even after presenting their payment plans.
Mkoba 14 resident Siphephile Ntini who has been grappling with council
to reconnect water supplies at her home for a $100 water bill said she
was being deprived of her right to safe water.
“The overzealous team led by one Muzorera came to my house and
disconnected water last month. They did not even consider my efforts
of trying to clear the bill,” Ntini said.
“I think they have to respect us and consider the economic conditions
which do not allow us to earn enough to honour our bills,” she said.
Bornwell Senda, from Nehosho who owes council $1 000 said REC cruelly
removed his water metre after failing to pay the bill.
“These boys are taking this salary issue too far. How could they
remove my metre because I have failed to pay?” Senda fumed.
Some residents have resorted to unsafe sources of water due to the
rampant water disconnections; hence a health time bomb is ticking in
areas like Mkoba 19 where the precious liquid is scarce.
REC has collected $1, 406, 688, 95 and $1, 404, 895, 86 in June and
July respectively through the water disconnections.
REC, head Frank Muzorera told Radio VOP that the committee was making
great strides towards making sure that residents honour their dues to
Muzorera however refuted claims that REC is disconnecting water at will.
“We give the residents warnings and three days’ notice to at least pay
$20 into their accounts. We would only close water if there residents
did not make any effort of paying their bills,”Muzorera said.
He said REC’s mandate was to ensure that there was enough revenue to
pay workers and for service delivery; hence the radical stance.
“There are some residents which had arrears of up to $2 000 so we
disconnected water and even removed the metres because they were not
compliant,” said Muzorera.
“We know that water is a right, but when it becomes treated water it’s
no longer a right,” Muzorera who has technically taken over goings on
at council said.
Gweru United Residents Association (GURA) chairperson, Reward Mhuri
said REC was not considerate of the plight of residents at a time
where many have lost their jobs.
He said council should engage residents on ways to pay their arrears
than disconnect water at will.
“As a representative of the residents, I think council is supposed to
engage residents. The recent wave of water cuts is appalling and will
cause health complications as residents resort to unsafe water,” Mhuri
told Radio VOP.
“It is unfair to disconnect water for a resident owing council a
paltry $50 yet hotels like Midlands Hotel are have over $300 000
accumulated over many years,” fumed Mhuri.
Alternatively, Mhuri said council could set hefty penalties for
Suspended Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi’s Midlands Hotel owes over $300 000
water and rates.
Kombayi has bluntly refused to pay the bill at various fora citing
that he used bore hall water.
Early this year took residents to debt collectors to recover an
estimated $20 million is rates and water, but has since resorted to
disconnecting water to force residents to pay.
By Mark Mhukayesango