By Thandiwe Garusa
THE Harare City Council will soon introduce prepaid water meters in the capital as part of measures to force residents to liquidate the millions in debts owed to council, Mayor Herbert Gomba said Monday.
Gomba told a speicla council meeting that Harare will adopt the pre-paid meter plan rolled out by State power producer Zesa soon.
Gomba said they are going to introduce water prepaid meters which will take a certain percentage of what they are owed till debts are settled.
“It’s a Zesa type of platform which they used recover what they were owed. As one buys their monthly water supply a percentage is withheld to cover the debt that they owe until it is liquidated. That is what we are adopting,” said Gomba.
He added: “If you look into these deals we want to get into, they involve prepaid water meters. So we have to find a way to install prepaid meters which will enable us to collect the debt from that. We are looking at maybe 10% of every transaction, we will have to look and consider things closely given the amounts people can be able to pay. The debt will be spread over a period.”
Gomba added that council is structuring new deals with a view to find a lasting solution to Harare’s water and waste management problems.
“We are entering into new deals and the whole thrust is to make that we address issues to deal with water in adequacy, leakages and other things, we are also appealing to government that they consider the budget for Kunzvi and Musami Dam,” said the Mayor.
According to Gomba council will also restructure its finance department to create a fully fledged revenue collection arm in the same mould as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
“We want a general wholesale, restructuring of the finance department so that we convert a section of it into a fully flagged Zimra copy type of a department. We want to be able to create a revenue collecting agent in the department so that we split the department into one that focuses on revenue collection and the other one focusing on revenue distribution,” said Gomba.
The issue of pre-paid meters will likely be flash-point with human rights and residents groups who argue water is a constitutional right.
Harare is owed hundreds of millions by residents, commercial entities and government departments and has been struggling to collect its revenue. In the run-up to the 2013 general elections, former President Robert Mugabe’s government ordered a liquidation of all debts owed by residents across the country’s urban centres leaving many bleeding. Harare says it has not recovered from thje politically motivated decision.