THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has written a letter to the Bulawayo City Council requesting information about the local authority’s plans for installation of prepaid water meters.
The inquiry comes amid reports that council was engaged in efforts to enforce the installation of prepaid water meters despite widespread opposition by residents.
In a letter addressed to the chamber secretary, ZLHR said as an organisation that fosters a culture of human rights, it was concerned by the planned installation of prepaid water meters as it had a bearing on the right to water.
“We have noted with concern the debate on prepaid water meters raging in the media, which has been characterised by lack of adequate information for any individual to make an informed opinion on whether or not prepaid water meters violate the right to access to water,” reads part of ZLHR’s letter.
“As an organisation that works for the protection and promotion of rights, including the right to water, we hereby request all the pertinent information relating to the prepaid water meter project so as to enable us as an organisation and as citizens likely to be affected to meaningfully engage with the city council and, or, take the legally available routes to protect the right to water.”
ZLHR said its request was consistent with Section 62 of the Constitution, which provides that every Zimbabwean has the right of access to any information held by the government or its agency at any level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability and for the exercise or protection of a right.
“As such, may we be furnished with the following details; the policy framework on prepaid water meters, the reasons behind the policy framework, how this will be implemented by council, when implementation will commence, the communities to be covered by prepaid water meters, in the short, medium and long term, whether or not the relevant communities were consulted, and, or, if there are any plans to carry out consultations with the affected people and when these will be held,” the letter reads.
Council’s chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou acknowledged receipt of the letter and indicated that it would be sent to various departments to formulate an informed response.
“We have sent the letter to various relevant departments for comments. We will come back to you as soon as we get feedback from them,” Zhou responded to ZLHR.
Council has declared that it will install prepaid water meters in the city despite resistance from residents and civic groups.