These quasi-government institutions are ultimately answerable to central government hence the government is also guilty. It is critical for our leaders to understand that citizens cannot afford the service charges for public utilities.
Those who think strategically will tell you that this issue is a national security threat. Unfortunately, it seems there are no strategic thinkers in government any more, maybe because of the uncertain nature of the inclusive government, the more reason we need an elected government soon.
Government enacted the various Acts of Parliament that gave rise to these institutions and it knows that they are monopolies which need to be monitored in case they abuse their monopoly, as is the case.
Had it not been that these institutions provide basic services and consumers are forced to pay through an Act of Parliament, all these institutions would have collapsed, as has happened to Air Zimbabwe.
Picture the following utility bill from the City of Harare for a resident in the medium-density suburb of Msasa Park, which went for over four continuous years without water.
When the multi-currency system was introduced residents started receiving water one day per three months and then one day per month and to date it is a few hours per fortnight.
Balance brought forward — $250
Property tax domestic zone 33 — $18
Water fixed monthly charge — $11
Water monthly consumption — $18
Sewage — $13
Water reconnection fee — $10
(Being charged every month since disconnection was effected. Disconnection done on a dry tape.)
Total for September — $81.
I am sure the water charge would be astronomical if water was available everyday of the month. The extra cost of fetching water when it is not available amounts to around US$90 per month including transport and the purchase price of the water. The inconvenience is even more. Loss of property value owing to shortage of water is massive. Tenants are now shunning Msasa Park.
The Blair toilet in my rural area is much better than the toilets in Msasa Park, residents have been reduced to sub-human beings by the City of Harare yet they have the audacity to take us to court. Msasa Park residents must not pay more than 10% of council bills in retrospect.
Soon after becoming mayor of Harare, Muchadeyi Masunda is on record saying residents must pay for water that they were not receiving. What a shame! Government must make sure this does not happen. It does not help to wish the problem away since the City of Harare is now suing residents for services not provided.
We will meet in court with my counter claim! The following statement is also printed on the statement:
Please Be Advised That Council Is Instituting Legal Action Icluding Attachment Of Property For Recovery Of Outstanding Arrears. Water Disconnections In All Areas Will Be Done Without Further Notice. Please Take Heed Of This Message And Visit Your Local Office For Payment/Or Arrangement.
The US$250 balance carried forward includes legal fees that City of Harare charged me when they attempted to sue me in the past. This means they became both the complainant and the judge!
I am prepared to fight this injustice in court all the way to the Supreme Court. I am sure that the Urban Councils Act assumes that council must meet its own end of the bargain. The astronomical bills that the city fathers sent us arose from non-provided service!
My assumption is that payment in foreign currency should have sorted the water problems in Harare but most of the money is going towards salaries and allowances of city council senior managers, employees and councillors.
City Council must stick to its core business, does it need to be venturing into funeral business when its workers can be catered for by private funeral parlours? Even blue chip companies do not own funeral parlours.
BY CHORUWA PINDURAI