Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Reporter
There was drama at Town House in Harare on Thursday when Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) demonstrated over the installation of prepaid water meters during a full council meeting. The meeting came to a standstill when CHRA representatives held placards and banners disrupting the council meeting.
The representatives began shouting names of city employees who they accused of corruption and refusing to hear their complaints.
Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni reprimanded the demonstrators for throwing fliers into the gallery and promised to meet their representatives after the meeting.
Councillors were divided on how to proceed with the fliers flying from the stands. A section of councillors felt that it was the residents’ democratic right to demonstrate, while others asked the Mayor to eject the residents because their demonstration was wrongly timed.
Normalcy returned but interjections continued throughout the meeting.
After the council meeting, CHRA chairperson, Mr Simbarashe Moyo, told journalists that residents had lost faith in elected council officials.
He said council should first address the water challenge, which most suburbs are experiencing.
“Our first concern is the issue of water privatisation, which contradicts provisions of the new Constitution and now the country is experiencing economic hardships,” said Mr Moyo.
“The water meters violate the right to water and with everyone being turned into a vendor by the economic situation, it is clear that a majority of the city’s residents will not afford to pay for water”.
Mayor Manyenyeni said residents should approach council using laid down procedures.
“As council, we are prepared to listen to residents’ concerns and everyone is allowed to approach my office any time instead of demonstrating.”
He said council would run random trials in different residential areas and no definite position had been reached as yet. The demonstrations come as council announced that it was installing prepaid water meters starting with a trial run to verify their effectiveness.
Harare has been battling to provide residents with adequate potable water for years with the council pumping close to 600 megalitres against the required 1 200 megalitres per household per day.