BULAWAYO City Council says it has stopped disconnecting water for residents defaulting on paying bills following a High Court ruling last month that declared it unconstitutional.
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that the Harare City Council was violating the Constitution by disconnecting water to force residents to pay their bills.
The Bulawayo council in disputing media reports that it was still disconnecting water supplies to residents, said it was bound by the ruling.
“Following Justice Bhunu’s ruling, Bulawayo City Council stopped all water disconnections in residential areas,” council’s senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu said in a statement on Friday.
“We note that the judgment which was passed is not only binding for the City of Harare, but Bulawayo as well.
“Please note that in this case the Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister would not normally be expected to send any communication.”
Councils resort to disconnecting water supplies to residents who go for months without paying their bills.
However, Mpofu said of Bulawayo, which is owed millions dollars by residents, government departments and private companies, had since stopped the practice.
“Our cut off teams stopped carrying out water disconnections following the ruling and we are currently in the process of delivering final demands to clients that have outstanding bills,” she said.
“The City of Bulawayo constantly monitors the legal environment and tries to ensure that it operates within the legal framework.”
Bulawayo, like many local authorities is reeling from a government directive in July last year to cancel service debts that had accrued since dollarisation in 2009.
Local authorities argue that the cancellation of debts engendered a culture of not paying bills on time.
The debts have crippled the operations of most local authorities including Bulawayo, which has little to spend on capital projects.