BY SILAS NKALA
HWANGE residents have clashed with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) over water disconnections to residents with outstanding debts.
Zinwa also disconnected water to companies in the coal-mining town in an effort to recover over
$2 billion that it is owed by residents around the country.
Greater Whange Residents Trust co-ordinator Fidelis Chuma on Friday said Zinwa embarked on the water disconnections without following due process.
“The Constitution guarantees the right to clean, potable water. If Zinwa is owed by residents, they should use the law to recover the money that they are owed rather than use barbaric tactics like water disconnections,” he said.
“Parliament had directed Zinwa to hand over water management to the Hwange Local Board (HLB) after residents, through the trust, petitioned it. The amounts of money owed varies from individual to individual. During COVID-19, you do not expect Zinwa to intensify water disconnections without following laid-down processes.”
Chuma said more than 100 families had approached the trust complaining about the disconnections, which have worsened in the past three months.
Zinwa spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga said they embarked on a revenue collection exercise to recover over $2 billion that it is owed by clients.
“Zinwa supplies treated water to domestic clients in small towns, growth points, rural service centres and also supplies raw water to irrigation farmers, agricultural estates, local authorities and mines. Of this amount, domestic clients owe $234 663 126, schools $36 473 529, local authorities $426 813 080, government departments $938 184 692, irrigators $256 472 553, while agricultural estates account for $18 888 953,” she said.
“Fellow parastatals also owe Zinwa $53 684 445. This non-payment of water bills by clients has resulted in serious operational challenges for Zinwa, which is now finding it extremely difficult to procure water treatment chemicals, repair and maintain water treatment and reticulation systems, pay for electricity and meet statutory obligations such as the payment of creditors, salaries, taxes and levies.”
Munyonga said besides disconnections, Zinwa would consider other measures like litigation and engaging clients in order to recover the debts.
“Disconnections come as a last resort. Zinwa is aware of the calls by some players in Hwange to have water supplies in the town handed over to the local board, including petitions to Parliament over the matter. Zinwa’s position on the matter is that this is purely a policy issue which can only be determined by the relevant line ministries. At the present moment, Zinwa continues to discharge its duties and functions in Hwange as is mandated,” she said.