A LOCAL social and economic justice lobby group, Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd), has challenged government to stop the unilateral imposition of pre-paid water meters in urban areas saying the move was anti-poor and would widen the gender inequality gap.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The call comes as Harare and Bulawayo have started rolling out pilot projects on the controversial commercialisation of water to residents ostensibly to improve service delivery.
Zimcodd said failing to pay for water would force women, who traditionally do most household chores, to spend most of their time looking for cheaper water elsewhere.
“The development will force women and children backward into the traditional role as water carriers and undermines educational and gender equality gains that can be reached through simple improvements in water supply,” Zimcodd said.
“The organisation is, therefore, calling for the immediate cessation of the pilot project and commencement of dialogue among all stakeholders to improve availability of cheap, but clean water.
“We are calling for a stop on the installation of pre-paid water meters and the opening of more dialogue between local authorities and the public on the issue of prepayment for the precious commodity,” it said.
Zimcodd believes that with effective and efficient management of the country’s resources water can be supplied to all for free or at nominal cost at the end of each month.
“We call for the mobilisation and utilisation of our natural resources to achieve universal access to water and in the meantime, while there should be a transparent cost benefit analysis report from councils on how much it would cost to contract a company for the installation of pre-paid meters in comparison to fixing shortcomings in the current billing system,” it argues.
Pre-paid water meters are coming hard on the heels of Zesa’s rollout of prepaid electrity meters. However, even with more than 200 000 households having pre-paid meters the country is still battling prolonged load-shedding each day causing residents to search for alternative sources of energy and light.
The privatisation of services which now extends to public health facilities has been done under the auspices of the neo-liberal economic policies adopted by the government under the International Monetary Fund’s Staff-Monitored Programme.