Harare City’s arbitrary water disconnections condemned

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Harare City Council’s   decision to   disconnect water from defaulting residents has come under heavy criticism from local organisations.

The Combined Harare Residents Association(CHRA)  has since written to  Mayor Herbert Gomba to stop forthwith the arbitrary water disconnections.

“The Combined Harare Residents Association is kindly requesting you to cease all arbitrary water disconnections across the City in the absence of a billing system.

“ The actions by your institution of arbitrarily disconnecting water to arm twist or coerce ratepayers to pay rates when you cannot ascertain payments made by the same ratepayer is not reasonable, fair and is gross violation of human rights,” states CHRA.

According to CHRA,there is the need for a  traceable billing system so that residents are able to account for their payments and service rendered.

“The absence of a billing system has denied ratepayers access to correct   information regarding their accounts.

“We are aware that receipting is being done offline and no updates on payments are being done at the moment yet you are disconnecting water on a debt that you cannot establish,” wrote CHRA to Mayor Herbert Gomba.

The association is contemplating taking a legal recourse if the   City Fathers  fail to shelve the disconnections since they violate the right to water and other  legal statutes.

“CHRA is prepared to advance this request to a competent court of law seeking administrative justice,” warns CHRA.

The letter from CHRA came at a time when Community Water Alliance on Wednesday Alliance delivered   letters to Budiriro District Office as a preliminary process to challenge arbitrary water disconnections.

Community Water Alliance says   considerations   should be taken on Budiriro with regards to arbitrary water disconnections    since it is usually hit by Cholera.

“Harare is a cholera hot spot but City of Harare officials have been arbitrarily disconnecting water without following procedures laid out in the archaic and oppressive Government Notice 164 of 1913,”argued CWA.

Last month, council spokesperson Michael Chideme told a local radio station that the city is owed $800 000 dollars by government, residents and business hampering its effort to provide efficient services.