Green, black tap water baffles Harare residents


Green, black or grey with bits in: Posting photos of the water coming out of Harare's taps has become a favourite pastime for some frustrated city dwellers.

In the last week, the colour of water in some areas of the Zimbabwean capital has varied from black and frothy through brown with bits in to pea-green, judging from posts on Twitter.

User @QFYvonne posted a photo of a saucepan filled with greying water with particles floating on the top with the words: "Meanwhile... #Zinwa [Zimbabwe National Water Authority] water from some tap in Harare Service 0/10".

On Tuesday the Harare Residents' Trust posted a short video clip of another city bath, this time with pinkish-grey water flowing from its taps. Silt appeared to be lying at the bottom of the bath. "We are saddened by the way the City of Harare is delivering unacceptable water to the resident," the Trust said. 

It's not just water in homes that comes out less than clear. Last month the editor of the state-run Chronicle newspaper Mduduzi Mathuthu posted three pictures of the water flowing from the taps he'd tried at Harare's plush Rainbow Towers Hotel.

It was brown and grey.

In some areas residents have to use buckets, buy bottled water or depend upon expensive private sellers who deliver borehole water in bulk. A month's water supply can cost around $200. There are complaints that these sellers are running down the already-threatened Harare water table.

Plans to install pre-paid water meters in homes are meeting stiff resistance, with some complaining they have a constitutional right to clean water. Water shortages and contaminated water sources were partly blamed for the end-of-2008 to early 2009 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe which killed 4 000 people.

In what's likely to be a controversial suggestion, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni was quoted in the private Newsday paper on Wednesday as suggesting residents should be forced to pay water bills when they pay their electricity bills at the offices of the state ZESA power utility. The council says its operations are crippled by the nearly $400m owed to it by residents. 

Water is provided in Harare by the city council, which is run by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Cuts and pipe bursts mean however that not every area gets piped water.

President Robert Mugabe ordered all outstanding rates bills to be written off just before the 2013 elections.

Facebook user Mobius Shumba commented under a video of a less-than-savoury looking bath: "The water being supplied is actually sewer water, if you leave it in a container for some days it will turn GREEN and it is always smelly."


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Denis Gwenzi
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