Gwanda residents have slammed council’s decision to go ahead with its proposed pilot prepaid water meter project when the programme is being challenged at the Constitutional Court.
BY MELODY CHIMHAU
The Gwanda Town Council last week invited tenders from companies with capacity to install the prepaid meters.
Council claimed it had conducted a random survey and established that the majority of the residents were supportive of the project.
However, Gwanda Residents’ Association spokesperson Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo yesterday said the move by the local authority to invite tenders when the matter had not been finalised was a waste of council resources.
“We are shocked and disturbed as Gwanda residents on what our council presumes itself to be to consider itself better positioned and more capable of going on to implement a programme unilaterally against such odds,” Fuzwayo added.
“It is an open secret that the issue of the legality and or constitutionality of prepaid water meters is a matter certainly bound to be decided in the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, and cannot at this stage be implemented as it would be a mere waste of time and resources.”
He said the survey the local authority purports to have carried out to establish the popularity of the water meters was “fraudulent”.
“It is, therefore, with regret that we note the council celebrating what they call a majority of residents who opted for meters on the basis of this fraudulent survey,” Fuzwayo added.
He said residents could have said they preferred prepaid meters because of frustration with council’s faulty billing system.
“The residents are, in fact, sending a no-confidence message to council and opting for prepaid meters simply as a means of getting rid of the council more than anything else,” Fuzwayo said.
“As residents’ representatives we stand by our demands that the council should come for an open dialogue with us and other stakeholders on this matter and allow due processes currently underway in higher offices to be completed before it could seriously consider unrolling the programme.”
He said residents would resist the installation of prepaid water meters in the Matabeleland South capital, setting the stage for a confrontation with council.
“We would like to categorically reiterate to the council that as the residents’ association and indeed residents, we shall not sit back and watch while they engage in this move without due consultation, consideration and consensus from all involved and interested in the matter,” Fuzwayo said.
Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has encouraged local authorities to install prepaid water meters, but the initiative has been met with serious opposition from civil society, which says the poor would be hit hard.