HARARE – Harare City Council has announced plans to introduce pre-paid water meters, drawing mixed reactions from ratepayers.
City officials feel this could stem the water billing crisis which they claim has been compounded by the high number of defaulting ratepayers.
Critics of the move such as the opposition National Constitutional Assembly say any implementation of the pre-paid water meters system was tantamount to the privatisation of a God-given natural resource and basic human right such as water and must be totally rejected by residents of Harare and all Zimbabweans.
NCA says it’s a form of privatisation and undemocratic commodification of what ought to be an essential, publicly funded service.
Amid the varied views, our reporter Wendy Muperi took to the streets of Harare to speak to ratepayers on the contentious issue.
Pathisa Nyathi, cultural commentator and author
“Water is a very sensitive and important issue. Everybody needs it and it is also linked to health if somebody does not have it. This system will first affect the poor, not the rich but anyway, at some point, everyone will be affected.
“Let us remember that disease is one thing that is very democratic and does not discriminate. The prepaid water system is very different from electricity because the latter has alternatives.
“Water has no alternatives and effects of its lack know no boundaries.”
Brighton Jeketa Greendale, painter
“The meters sound good for landlords, how about the lodger especially the one with a small or no family at all?
“Take for instance myself, I am a single parent and my children are not with me here but maybe staying with a family of 10. I spend the day away working and weekends visiting my children but with meters, I will still have to contribute.
“The only advantage that I can think of is that of doing away with estimates. But why solve another problem by creating another? They should just fix their bills.”
Matthew Jonga Guruve, ratepayer
“Where I stay we do not experience water problems similar to Harare, that is foreign.
“If they bring prepaid meters to our homes too, we will have no objection until we are in the know, that is when I can only comment on whether they are good or bad.
“At the moment all I know my arrears were cancelled, my account is on zero.”
Elizabeth Kubwalo Tafara, salesperson
“I do not know whether the old will manage under the system. We are not working anymore.
“After selling clothing that I and my mentally challenged child make, I have to divert that to buy prepaid water which I think from experience is expensive and very inconveniencing.”
Tendai Mtombeni, student
“We have a right to water which is a very important right. What I can say is after my parents buy water for $50 council must then make sure that water is available for me whenever I need it?
“One of the major reasons why people have not been paying is because the service was not being delivered.
“Why pay for something you are not enjoying?”