Gweru City Councillors are divided over the ongoing disconnections of water to defaulting residents with some saying the move is inhumane and against the spirit of engaging ratepayers.
By Stephen Chadenga
Councillors on Tuesday engaged in heated debate at a full council meeting with Ward 10 councillor Charles Chikozho (MDC-T) proposing that supplies should be restored to residents who had their water disconnected without notice.
Council workers have embarked on a water disconnection spree as the local authority is battling to raise money forsalaries.
“We cannot have a situation of anarchy, where our workers disconnect water willy-nilly,” Chikozho said.
“There are some residents in my ward whose water was disconnected on Africa Day. Such residents, including those even not in my ward, should have water restored at their homes.”
But councillor Tiripayi Chipondeni (Zanu PF) said water disconnections should continue to encourage residents to pay their bills.
Chipondeni said council had made a resolution that disconnections would be carried out as the local authority engaged residents.
“We can’t stop disconnecting water to those who default, it’s a standing resolution we made here in the chambers,” he said.
Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi said council should stick to payment plans made by residents to avoid conflicts.
“There should be a spirit of engagement with our residents,” Kombayi said.
In January, residents staged protests against council’s decision to hand them over to debt collectors for outstanding bills.
The local authority is reportedly owed $24 million by ratepayers.
Meanwhile, Gweru residents have threatened to protest against poor service delivery.
In a petition dated May 26 addressed to town clerk Daniel Matawu, the residents said council should stop water disconnections, clear garbage in the streets, among other demands failure of which they would demonstrate.
The document was signed by 51 residents including ward chairpersons and committee