HARARE – Residents are entitled to six cubic metres of water every month, hence local authorities’ decision to switch off water defaulters is a violation of human rights and government policy, a cabinet minister has said.
Water Resources Development and Management minister Sipepa Nkomo said he has been on record ordering local authorities not to disconnect people who would have failed to pay their bills.
“They have to find ways of encouraging payment. Disconnecting water is against government policy because water has become a human right,” said Nkomo while announcing new water tariffs in Harare last week.
This comes amid revelations to the Daily News that Chitungwiza and Kuwadzana councils had disconnected water to defaulting residents.
Nkomo said government, each month, is supposed to provide 30 free drums (equivalent to six cubic metres) of water to each household.
“For that right (premised on four spheres namely drinking, cooking, washing and personal hygiene supplies of water) to be achieved, each household gets 30 drums of water for free. And if people are disconnected, what happens to that water,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister announced that the ministry had slashed raw water tariffs amid concerns raised by raised by stakeholders who claimed the current charges were deterrent to consumers.
“After carefully applying my mind to the concerns and also being guided by the mandate bestowed upon me by the relevant enabling legal statutes, I have seen it prudent to intervene and revise the water tariffs to encourage payment and viability,” said Nkomo.
The new tariffs require industry commercial estates consumers to pay $9,45 from $12,68, A2 farmers will pay $6,82 from $12,19, local authorities $6 from $11,71, A1 farmers will now part with $5 from the previous $7,80 and communal farmers got a 50 cents reduction from $4,50.
As of June this year, according to Nkomo, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) was owed $27,3 million by consumers of raw water.
He said the current billing system, which is based on allocations as per agreements entered into by Zinwa and raw users, has also been switched to usage based billing.
The minister called on all people using water commercially to acquire permits from the administering authority, Zinwa.
“Let me also stress that it is a legal requirement that anyone who uses raw water for commercial purposes should only do so in terms of permit and should pay for the water,” said the minister. – Wendy Muperi