Council scraps Mabvuku fixed water charges

The charges date as far back as 2013.

The cancellation comes into effect on April 30 in line with a full council resolution.

Current figures indicate that fixed water charges in high density areas stand at $4, while the low density and commercial sector pay $9 and $50 respectively.

Mabvuku councillor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi said “it was unfair (for residents) to pay for water they are not getting”.

“This is an old resolution and was supposed to have been in effect when the decision was passed. What we are saying is that council is in the business of providing a service but if that service is not being rendered, then people should not pay,” he said.

“So until we can provide Mabvuku with water, they will not be paying anything to council,” he added.

Kufahakutizwi said the cancellation was backdated to 2013 because of the debt write-off effected that year by government.

Community Water Alliance coordinator Hardlife Mudzingwa said they have been advocating for a debt audit on water bills before council engaged debt collectors and lawyers.

While fixed water charges are meant to fund infrastructure maintenance, pipes and treatment works, he argued “Mabvuku has had no water for a long time and it makes no sense to talk about maintenance of pipes for a service that has not been received for more than 10 years”.

“This campaign should be taken to other areas like Borrowdale where water has not been received for a long time,” Mudzingwa urged.

“However, we should be weary that some people lost their property because of odious debt and even up to now, lawyers are issuing Assumption of Agency documents to take up legal action against residents.”

Mabvuku residents have been using boreholes and shallow wells for water as municipal water only comes rarely.

Last year, residents complained to council that thugs had taken over community boreholes and began charging $1 for a 20-litre container.

With the HCC water debt has reached more than $600 million since the 2013 government write-off, council has had to contract debt collectors to recover the money owed.

Since the debt collectors began slapping defaulters with final demand letters last year, council has so far recovered $5,5 million.

The fixed water charge cancellation also comes at a time council is engaging the Local Government ministry over plans to hike tariffs, arguing they are selling the commodity below cost.

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