11 May 2017
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s government should make serious
resolutions about the management of the capital’s water resources by the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Water shortages have become so critical that most urban dwellers are
forced to relieve themselves in the bush rendering the use of toilets
untenable, thereby creating a health hazard at a time the health delivery
system is in the intensive care.
Residents of Mabvuku and Tafara in Harare have rarely had reliable
supplies of tap water for long. At the same time, businesses are
complaining over intermittent cuts in supply.
In the circumstances, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing’s deduction that Zinwa has
failed in its mandate and should therefore cede the provision of potable
water and sewer reticulation to the country’s 92 local authorities seems
to make sense.
The committee, led by Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi, was looking
into issues of corruption, poor service delivery and mismanagement of
ratepayers’ funds, among other alleged malpractices by councils.
Zinwa’s management of water reticulation is far from satisfactory while
the tariffs they levied councils are high.
Currently, the parastatal is battling to recover $146 million owed by the
local authorities in unpaid water charges.
During its investigations, the committee heard how Zinwa was
indiscriminately cutting off supplies to the local authorities to force
them to pay their arrears.
This exposed residents to health hazards as they inevitably turned to
unprotected sources, most of which do not have safe water.
Letting Zinwa manage water and sewer reticulation, but failing to maintain
the system, should be looked into again and government must review its
The ideal situation is to have all local authorities manage their own
sewer and water reticulation systems. Zinwa should continue to supply raw
water to local authorities, albeit at a reasonable price, so that they in
turn are able to supply their residents consistently at an affordable
It has been the norm for residents to complain about persistent water cuts
with the majority of them being unhappy with the overall quality of the
precious liquid supplied by the city fathers.
For the past 10 years, residents and council officials have accused the
national water management authority of collecting millions of dollars from
the councils, while its service has remained deplorable and water charges
are exorbitant – resulting in both the local authorities and ratepayers
reeling in massive debts.