Blessings Chidakwa and Sallomy Matare
Harare City Council has torched a storm following its proposal to increase water charges by at least 900 percent, while some ratepayers will now be charged in foreign currency.
Water charges will increase from $0.80 cents to $7 per cubic metre.
According to joint minutes of Finance and Development and Human Resources and General purposes committees, council also resolved to charge in foreign currency, companies receiving forex for their goods and services.
“That the town clerk and acting finance director pursue the proposal to charge certain ratepayers or customers or services or products in foreign currency after applying for obtaining the necessary exemptions referred to in the preamble above from Government,” read the minutes.
In a statement on Monday, Harare sought to increase water charges, citing the increase in water treatment chemicals, cost of electricity, among other variables.
“Harare is proposing to increase water charges from $ 0.80c per cubic meter to around $7 to allow adequate funding of the water sector,” reads the statement. The cost of water treatment chemicals has increased by a factor of more than 10 since all chemicals are either 100 percent imports or have major forex components. The cost of electricity which is the second cost driver in water treatment and conveyance has also gone up. It has, therefore, become necessary to review the cost of water.”
The city is in the process of testing new chemicals, with the objective of improving efficiencies and effectiveness in the water treatment process.
“The current water shortages are a result of drought, inadequate water sources and the inconsistent water pricing structure against the cost of production.
“Many suburbs are going without water. The city is appealing to consumers to understand the situation and embrace the impending price adjustment that will ensure viability of the water sector. Council has engaged Government for the drilling of more boreholes and construction of new water sources,” reads the statement.
Zimbabwe Combined Ratepayers and Residents Association president Mr McStephen Nyabvure blasted Harare for increasing charges for unavailable water.
“It does not make sense at all to hike the cost for water that we are not receiving,” he said. Community Water Alliance director Mr Hardlife Mudzingwa said the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for “respect’’ of its people, from whom the authority to govern is derived under Section 3(2) (e). “Any attempt by any arm of Government to treat citizens as either cash cows or bearers of economic burden will face resistance from the public,” he said.