Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka has told the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and Gwanda Municipality to settle their $196 million debt issue out of court.
This comes after Zinwa had taken Gwanda Municipality to court for failing to pay a water bill of $196 million accumulated over five years.
Zinwa had for a while disconnected water supplies to Gwanda Municipality over the debt, after which they restored them.
Speaking during a tour of Gwanda water works and later at Tuli-Manyange Dam in Ntalale, Gwanda District yesterday Dr Masuka said the court case should be withdrawn and gave them a deadline to submit a report.
“The two (Zinwa and Gwanda Municipality) have taken each other to court. We have said they must withdraw the court process and begin to work together. We have given them a deadline of 23 August by which the technical team will be able to submit a report on the status of the debt, the mechanism and modality for the handover of the treatment works to Gwanda Municipality,” said Dr Masuka.
He said of the $196 million owed to Zinwa by Gwanda Municipality, $161 million was owed by Government departments.
Dr Masuka said this was a concern and urged all Government departments to be able to own up their obligations.
“In this regard we are going to talk at Central Government level to see how we can assist Gwanda Municipality to collect and pay those debts as part of the handover process to Gwanda Municipality for this treatment works.”
He said of the $2,4 billion owed Zinwa, the Government departments owed $1,2 billion.
Dr Masuka said working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development they had accelerated the payment plans.
The Beitbridge Municipality is said to owe Zinwa $198 284 024.
The Minister said: “In terms of Beitbridge they have been derailing for quite a while I think it’s something we are going to be working with them to ensure that they are able to honour their obligations and they put in a robust payment plan and I hope they will be able to live up to it.”