Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Online Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has disconnected water supply to Gwanda Municipality over a $193 million debt, leaving residents from the mining town with no water.
Zinwa has embarked on a massive water disconnection exercise to recover $2,4 billion it is owed by consumers. The exercise targets Government departments, local authorities and other consumers whose accounts are in arrears.
Meanwhile, residents in Gwanda have been forced to rely on few boreholes dotted around the town.
In an interview Gwanda Municipality Mayor, Njabulo Siziba said they were in the process of engaging Zinwa over the matter.
“Zinwa disconnected our water supply Thursday morning, leaving the town without running water. Residents are now relying on boreholes. We owe Zinwa $193 million and we are in the process of engaging them in order to rectify the issue. The problem we are facing is that each month Zinwa bills us money that we can’t collect every month and this affected our bill payments.
“We have an outstanding $150 million which is owed to us by debtors and most of them are Government departments. This has also affected us in clearing our arrears. We are seized with the matter and we hope to have it rectified soon,” he said.
In an interview Gwanda Residents Association deputy secretary general Wellington Nare said Zinwa and council had to find a way to resolve the issue. He said with the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic the boreholes which residents were now crowding to collect water from might become hotspots of the pandemic.
“The district has limited boreholes and people are now crowding them in order to collect water. Some of the boreholes are not working which is creating problems for residents. If Zinwa wants to recover its debt from council then they should find other measures such as attaching property because as it is the people are the ones who are suffering.
“Water is a basic right of every human and people shouldn’t be deprived of this right. There is need for Government to finally address the issue of administration of water in our town because this joint administration between Zinwa and the municipality is affecting us,” he said.
In May, Zinwa dragged the Gwanda Municipality to court for failing to pay a water bill of nearly $140 million which had accumulated over the past five years.
On Wednesday, Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga, said Government departments and other affected institutions have since been advised to clear their arrears or face disconnection.
She said of the total debt, Government departments owe more than $1 billion, local authorities more than $500 million, irrigators nearly $400 million while domestic clients account for more than $ 200 million while the other clients such as parastatals, mines, industry, schools and churches account for the remainder of the amount.
Mrs Munyonga said the non-payment of water bills by clients has adversely affected the authority’s operations. As a result of non-payment of water bills, Mrs Munyonga said, the authority has not been able to timely service statutory obligations which include taxes, levies, payment of creditors and staff salaries.