The Gweru City Council has come under fire from residents for allegedly illegally confiscating water meters to “fix” those in rates arrears.
By Tinotenda Samukange
Investigations by NewsDay revealed that municipal officials have been removing water meters from homes leaving residents without water.
One of the affected residents, Judith Musamadiya of Senga suburb said council officials removed her water meter last November and was asked to pay $798 in order to have the meter restored.
“I have always been paying my rates consistently, but my bill never goes down,” she said.
“They removed my water meter, vandalising my wall in the process. I pleaded with them to make a payment plan, they denied. How can I survive with no water?” she asked.
Another resident alleged council workers were demanding bribes from residents to spare their water meters.
“If you just pay $5 bribe, you will be spared from disconnection,” said the resident who requested anonymity.
Acting town clerk, Edgar Mwedzi, however, refuted the allegations.
“We don’t take water meters from residents unless they have their water closed and unlawfully reconnect on their own. In that case we are left with no option, but to confiscate the meters,” Mwedzi said.
“We accept payment plans, but one has to pay half down so that we can spread the remainder over a period of time.”
Last year, Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere suspended all Gweru councillors, including the Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi on allegations of gross misconduct and mismanagement of funds.
The suspensions followed investigations by the ministry’s audit team.