Mayor, minister clash

HARARE - A fresh wrangle has emerged between Water Resources, Development and Management Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda over the disconnection of water supplies to Harare Residents.

Last week Nkomo ordered all local authorities to stop disconnecting water supplies to defaulting residents, saying this was against government policy.

Nkomo cited the high water rates as unaffordable to the underpaid Zimbabweans who have had to endure an incessant cash crunch as the countrys economy economic revival takes a slow pace.

Nkomo said the majority of workers salaries were below the “high bills charged and urged councils to work out a payment plan with residents.

The majority of workers, civil servants among them, were earning about US$150. Harares water bills have reached as high as US$1000 for some households.

Responding to Nkomos suggestions, Masunda rubbished any prospects of a payment plan for residents.

“How can you have dialogue with people who are not even showing a willingness to pay? There is no way people will pay on their own without being forced. We need money to replenish our coffers which are empty, he said.

Masunda said the council needed US$2 million every month to buy water treatment chemicals and he lashed out at residents for asking the city to provide them with free services

“There is nothing for nothing these days and from what they owe us, where do residents think council will get money for operations? he charged, The only way council will recover its money is through disconnections.”

This is not the first time Nkomo and Masunda have clashed over the high water charges and the councils decision to cut water supplies.

In August last year, thousands of Harare families had their supplies cut as Nkomo and Masunda wrangled.

The minister had ordered water cuts to cease, but the mayor continued saying he would not stop until he received a written directive from Nkomo.

However, Nkomo argued that he did not need to write because a Cabinet policy to that effect had already been publicised.

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