The Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA) has distanced itself from the protest marches against the pre-paid water metering choosing instead to engage the Bulawayo City Council and government in dialogue over the issue.
BURA members were conspicuous with their absence in last Friday’s street protests which saw hundreds of residents besiege the Large City Hall to pressurise the local authority to reverse its decision to instal pre-paid water meters.
The march was organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in conduction with other civic organisations from Bulawayo.
In an interview with Radio Dialogue, BURA Chairperson Winos Dube defended their stance saying while they are against pre-paid water meters, they do not believe adopting a militant stance will solve the problem.
He said as an organisation they have chosen to engage with council and government through dialogue.
“Our position is quite clear, residents have made it clear that they are not happy with it (installation of pre-paid water meters). As BURA the best way to go about it is to make correspondence to the relevant authorities and we are definitely working on that.
“Pre-paid water meters are an infringement of basic human rights. If one has to pay upfront to have access to water, we feel that is a serious infringement to our rights. Even in the United Nations Charter it is clearly stated that water is a right to a human being,” said Dube.
He added that many people will suffer if the system is introduced as they will struggle to raise the money to purchase bulk water and it might lead to an outbreak of diseases.
Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Savior Kasukuwere was quoted in The Chronicle Tuesday reiterating that government is not backtracking on the installation of pre-paid water meters countrywide.
“People should pay for services so that they access clean adequate water. If they do not pay, where will money to buy chemicals to treat the water come from?,” Kasukuwere was quoted as having said.
However, addressing protesters at the Friday march, civic society leaders said they will continue with the militant approach until government bows down to their demands.
BURA believes this approach does not work.
“We will put our arguments in writing and we will forward that to him (Minister Savior Kasukuwere) and we will see how he will respond. We just hope all other organisations should do the same. This thing of just jumping up and down and dancing doesn’t work,” said Dube.
The local authority has proposed to instal pre-paid water meters in the Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle area, as a pilot project to test the viability of the system before rolling it out to the rest of the city.
Source: Radio Dialogue