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Protests loom

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ABOUT 10 civic society organisations have joined forces to lead street protests on Friday against moves by the Bulawayo City Council to introduce prepaid water meters.

STAFF REPORTER

The groups have been mobilising residents to participate in the anti-prepaid water meter campaign protests set for Cowdray Park high-density suburb where council is set to pilot the project.

Among some of the organisations participating in the protests is the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (Bpra), the militant Ibhetshu LikaZulu, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Bulawayo Agenda, Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe, Radio Dialogue, National Youth Development Trust, Women’s Institute of Leadership Development, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Enterprises and Christian Legal Society.

“The peaceful march shall be carried out in Cowdray Park from 10am and a petition handed over to local authority officials at the ward council offices.

“The participating organisations’ position is that prepaid water meters are not suitable as a water management system in Zimbabwe,
according to Zibusiso Dube, the Bpra information officer.

“The Friday march follows the successful holding of an awareness campaign by the participating where 65 volunteers conducted a door-to-door campaign in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle area on Saturday 21 June 2014 educating residents on the merits and demerits of prepaid water meters, and conscientising them on the possible effects of introducing the devices,” he said.

The groups argue that prepaid water meters privatise water which is a violation of the right to water and should be resisted by residents of Bulawayo.

They say such a move would segregate against the poor resulting in an outbreak of diseases in poor communities.

“Based on desktop research on what happened after introduction of prepaid water meters in many parts of Africa. . . the gadgets led to an outbreak of cholera in Madlebe in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa leading to loss of lives, and seriously undermined the right to water in many poor communities,” Dube said.

Consultations in Bulawayo have also revealed that most residents are against the move to introduce pre-paid water meters.

“The campaign thus seeks to encourage the city fathers to rescind the decision to introduce the gadgets. Council has vowed to forge ahead with the prepaid meter water project despite resistance from residents. It is defending the gadgets as necessary to force residents to pay their bills while noting that this would deal with problems of estimated meter readings and reduce billing errors.

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