SEKE MP Munyaradzi Tobias Kashambe (Zanu-PF) yesterday caused a storm in Parliament after he suggested that residents who cannot afford to pay for tap water should relocate to rural areas where the resource is obtained free of charge.
The MP said this when Water Alliance leader Hardlife Mudzingwa appeared before the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture, where they advocated for revamp of the Water Act (Chapter 20:24).
The civic society organisation (CSO) wants the Act, which is administered by the Lands ministry, to have a clause that ensures there are no arbitrary water cuts to poor citizens and pensioners who cannot afford services.
Kashambe then quipped: "Those that cannot afford water, be it because of economic or social factors must know that there are places in this country where those people can stay instead of staying in cities. They can stay in rural areas, where water is free, so that they do not inconvenience those that will be sent to disconnect the water."
His statement attracted murmurs of disappointment from the CSOs present during the oral evidence.
Wadyajena also said water was a basic right for everyone enshrined in the Constitution.
Mudzingwa requested Parliament to summon the City of Harare and the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to explain how water chemical tenders are awarded.
He said the tender was currently held by an expensive company which charges US$4 million per month to produce 600 megaliters of water per day, while another comparative company with modern technology offered US$2,5 million per month.
"Harare city is currently using nine to 12 chemicals to treat water because the city is built upstream of its water source and, therefore, all the pollution that happens find its way to Lake Chivero, which the International Lake Environment Committee said is heavily polluted," Mudzingwa said.
"The current suppliers of chemicals to Harare require US$4 million per month to produce 600 megaliters per day and these are huge costs for the City of Harare for the chemicals required and Parliament should look at how these tenders are awarded."
The Lands and Agriculture Committee said the Water Alliance must provide proof of payment of the $4 million monthly payments.
Water Alliance said the Water Bill also called for transparency and accountability on water loans signed to by government such as the $144 million water loan from China.