HARARE mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has vowed to press ahead with plans to introduce prepaid water meters despite spirited resistance by residents and human rights campaigners.
Addressing stakeholders at an indaba on water governance in the capital on Wednesday, Manyenyeni said the programme was an effective cost recovery exercise, hence council’s decision to implement it without further delay.
“The issue of introducing prepaid water system to residents is now at an advanced stage within the city council and there is no going back on the project, especially with the fast-changing operational systems because of the ever-changing technology, we need to move with the times,” Manyenyeni said.
He added: “The process will begin through a phased approach to gauge progress and success of the project. We will draw some lessons from countries that have already started using such systems like South Africa, moving forward.”
The city’s director of water, Christopher Zvobgo, was recently quoted in the media, indicating that they would embark on a pilot project to install prepaid water meters for a more efficient billing system.
“We want to introduce prepaid water metres and we will soon rollout a pilot project. If we install prepaid water metres then consumers can manage their own consumption, doing away with the billing system,” Zvobgo was quoted as saying.
However, the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) and Community Water Alliance (CWA) have argued that water is a human right and its supply should not be commercialised .
CWA co-ordinator Hardlife Mudzingwa said the city council should continue to consult stakeholders to ensure buy-in as the majority of residents in Greater Harare — which also encompasses Ruwa, Epworth, Norton and Chitungwiza — were still sceptical of the programme.
CHRA chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said: “Despite the mayor seemingly declaring the city council’s position on the prepaid water meters, we are definitely going to stand up against the installation of the meter as this project is not only manipulative, but its deliverance is not pro-poor.
“If we go back to the principles and values of the social contract, one finds that the prepaid water system does not protect the vulnerable in society.”