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City of Harare must heed Minister's directive to reconnect water supplies
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
August 06, 2009

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) would like to urge the Harare Mayor, His Worship, Muchadeyi Masunda to heed to Minister Sipepa Nkomo's directive to stop all water disconnections and reconnect supplies to those residents whose supplies had already been disconnected. CHRA has welcomed the Minister's directive which has come timely as there were now fears of another cholera outbreak due to the water disconnections.

The Association would also like to put it forward to the Mayor of Harare that the Council should not charge residents reconnection fees because the water disconnection exercise was illegal. The Cabinet made a standing decision that water should not be disconnected as the exercise was and still is tantamount to health hazards like cholera. The residents of Harare have hardly recovered from the cholera outbreak which claimed hundreds of lives and the city is still experiencing isolated cases of the epidemic in some High density areas like Kuwadzana, Highfield, Dzivarasekwa and Glen View. It is also clear that the cholera epidemic was a result of the prolonged water cuts that ensued in Harare since 2006. It is a sign of lack of social responsibility and disregard for human life for the City of Harare to insist on disconnecting water to residents for non-payment. Moreover, the move to disconnect water is in direct conflict with the national policy that was adopted by Cabinet that water should not be disconnected.

Furthermore, residents have argued that the amounts of money being demanded by the City of Harare are exorbitant and not commensurate with the quality and amount of water that is being supplied to residents. CHRA is cognizant of the fact that Council needs money in order to improve service delivery and that residents should honour their obligation to pay bills but there is a need for the City of Harare to consider the grievances of residents so that a good working relationship can be built. The Association appreciates the efforts that the Council is making to improve social service delivery. However, it is critical for Council not to use confrontational approaches towards residents as this further damages the already shaky relationship that exists between residents and Council. CHRA believes in dialogue and consultation so that all stakeholders are clear on what is happening. The principle of dialogue also reduces chances of misunderstandings, mistrust and confrontations. CHRA was happy to know that Council was planning on engaging residents in consultations regarding issues of rates and service delivery. However, the meetings seem to be going at a slower pace than what residents anticipated. It was also confusing for residents to receive letters of final demand followed by water disconnections soon after the Council had indicated a willingness to engage in dialogue through consultative ward meetings; a situation that has given residents the impression that Council is not serious about engaging in dialogue and consultations.

Meanwhile, CHRA is working in partnership with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to help residents should the City of Harare decide to substantiate its threats. The Association urges residents to remain calm and refuse to be intimidated. CHRA will continue to advocate for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality and affordable municipal (and other) services on a non-partisan basis.

Visit the CHRA fact sheet

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