THE Combined Harare Residents (CHRA) has appealed to Harare residents to pay for supplied water to help the city council sustain provision for water services.
CHRA full statement:
CHRA bemoans the man-made problems that have led to the shutting down of Morton Jaffrey Water Treatment Plant by the City of Harare due to shortage of water treatment chemicals, a situation that creates a fertile ground for waterborne disease outbreaks in the city.
The shortage of water treatment chemicals comes against a background of poor revenue inflows, unattended water bursts and water theft, destruction of wetlands and delay in the disbursements devolution funds by Government.
As of May 2022, the City of Harare collected ZWL10 billion against a target of ZWL17 billion, the revenue deficit of ZWL700 million has dire consequences on the local authority’s ability to provide water to the residents especially in a hyper inflationary environment.
To this end we call upon the residents of Harare to pay for water services provided as this sustains water provision financially for our local authority and implore the City of Harare to fix its billing system as it has become a major barrier for residents to pay their rates.
We reiterate that debts premised on a faulty billing are not legitimate hence the city must urgently address the issue of billing as this has a bearing on revenue collection, a situation where residents pay for their water with no deductions on their bills is retrogressive and counterproductive.
The level at which the city is losing treated water to unattended bursts (physical loses) is at 40 percent, with the city producing around 300 megalitres per day. In essence it is revenue loss which must be addressed as a matter of urgency as this burden will be borne by the residents of Harare.
We would like to remind property developers, housing cooperatives, City of Harare and other stakeholders that protection of wetlands is fundamental especially for a city like Harare that is located on the catchment of Lake Chivero which supplies the city with raw water.
We implore the City of Harare and the Environmental Management Agency to take the wetlands protection agenda seriously, as we have seen new housing stands allocations on wetlands in Mufakose and Mabvuku.
The way in which our wetlands are being destroyed is unacceptable, wetlands purify water for free hence protection of these wetlands can reduce the water treatment chemicals used to purify water, thereby reducing the water treatment costs incurred by the city which are hovering around US$3 million per month.
The ballooning water treatment and electricity costs require serious environmental interventions and innovation on how the city’ water treatment and sewer reticulation plants are powered, and to this end we recommend solar energy to electrify these plants.
Lastly, we are worried over the continued starving of the City of Harare on the disbursements and administration of devolution funds. We believe these funds can cushion the City of Harare on water treatment.
We are aware that this year alone the City of Harare was allocated ZWL$2 billion and as of May 2022 only ZWL$73 million had been disbursed to the local authority.
The use of devolution funds is determined by residents and their local authority. We believe that Harare’s devolution funds should be channelled towards water provision and health. Based on our understanding of the IGFT process (devolution funds), we do not expect the national Government to prescribe to local authorities where, when, and what to buy using devolution funds when the constitution is very clear on devolution and procurement.
In view of the above and our expectations to address this man made water crisis caused by the shutting down of Morton Jaffray Water Treatment plant we recommend the following;
- Residents of Harare receiving water supply must pay for water services provided in order to ensure financial sustainability for the local authority to provide water.
- The City of Harare must explore alternative power sources such as solar energy for water purification and water treatment plants in order to cut its energy consumption costs.
- The City of Harare need to fix its billing system and put it online, where in payments made and the balances reflect in real time, the platform that will house the billing system must not be prone to manipulation as witnessed in the past, this will encourage residents to pay their bills.
- All remaining wetlands must be protected, we expect no construction activities on wetlands, and the newly gazetted EMA Wetlands Map should guide spatial planning in the City of Harare.
- Full implementation of devolution as provided for in Chapter 14 of the Constitution, and the Government must urgently gazette Bills to Parliament that will guide devolution implementation in Zimbabwe.
- Our view is that Section 301(1)(a) and (b) broadly constitutes the Inter-Governmental Fiscal Transfers (IGFTs) from the National Government to the Provincial, Metropolitan Councils and Local Authorities and 5 percent of those revenues (devolution funds) should be allocated to the provincial and local authorities unconditionally.
- Local authorities have the right to govern on their own initiative and determination their local development needs.
- Additional revenues, outside of the 5 percent can be extended to provincial and local authorities with the requisite conditionalities as the National Government sees fit. — Combined Harare Residents Association