22 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Harare Water Woes - Residents, Council Should Harmonise Relations

Residents of Harare have long suffered from water disconnections. Water is essential in people's lives and people cannot live without it.

Every person has the right to safe, clean and potable water. Daily household chores and industrial activities require huge amounts of water. So, when the City of Harare secured a US$144 million loan from China, Harare residents had every reason to celebrate in anticipation of increased water pumping capacity.

They expected consistent water supplies in their own households.

Harare City Council has dismally failed to increase their pumping capacity, and most households, especially in the northern and eastern suburbs rarely receive municipal water. The council should be blamed because of its misuse of public funds meant to ensure the progressive realisation of residents' rights to water.

The council has instituted an investigation into the alleged abuse of the US$144 million Chinese loan.

They are taking their time to produce the report of their findings.

The public should be informed about the plans taking place within the council and how funds are being used. Due to their suffering and lack of transparency in council, residents withhold their rates.

Council should at least produce a timetable for the water disconnections. Last week residents in Mabvuku complained of inconsistent water supplies. Water shortages increase the risk of diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid.

Harare Residents Trust (HRT) educates the community through focus group discussions and community meetings. The objective is to build residents' capacity to demand and claim their rights as communities, but most importantly, as individuals.

This is commendable as it is in line with Section 270 (3), Chapter 14 of the constitution which outlines the importance of human rights.

It is critical that council becomes more accountable to the citizens if it hopes to build a strong relationship with its stakeholders and get the cooperation of residents.

This will instil confidence among international and regional funding partners who wish to invest in Harare's infrastructure sector.

Sharon Magodyo is HRT Community Coordinator.


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