Masvingo residents reject 66 percent rise on water charges

By Upenyu Chaota

MASVINGO— Residents here have come up in arms with the city fathers’ decision to increase water charges by 66 percent in the 2019 budget and so far 70 letters of objection have been filed shooting down the proposal.

Residents believe that the city council is not justified to increase water charges because they are not able to provide adequate supply of the precious liquid with some areas getting water for only two hours a day depending on the proximity to the water tanks.

Masvingo Residents and Ratepayer Alliance (MURRA) helped the residents to file their letters of objection with council as provided for by the Urban Councils Act.

In the budget, council proposes a 66 percent increase in the amount charged for water, meaning that residents in high density suburbs, who are currently paying around 66 cents per cubic metres of water, would be paying around $1.26 for the same amount of water.

Those in low density suburbs are currently paying around 88 cents per cubic metre of water, but they would be paying around $1.54 for the same amount.

MURRA spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said they have helped residents with their objection letters so that the council will not rob people in broad day light.

“Things are tough and why do we have to go back to the same people who are suffering and add salt to their wounds.

“We asked the council to give a justification to their proposal but they could not give us satisfactory reasons. They are not able to give adequate water so why then would they think of increasing the charges?

“Water rationing is so high and many locations do not get water at all. By midday, most locations that are far from the main storage tanks will be switched off so why would they be compelled to pay” said Mtimba.

City mayor Collen Maboke said it is within residents’ rights to object to some of the budget provisions within a stipulated time frame.

“The budget proposal is open to objection from residents during a stipulated time frame. The increment is just a proposal so we have to bring everyone on board so that we come up with a workable solution for the betterment of our city,” said Maboke.