THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is owed $133 million by government, local authorities and farmers, Parliament was told yesterday.
Source: Govt, farmers, councils owe Zinwa $133m – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 22, 2016
by VENERANDA LANGA
Zinwa chief executive officer Jefter Sakupwanya told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands that the water utility was also facing financial problems, with its 2 000 workforce being owed a total of $11 million in salary arrears which accrued over the past seven months.
Sakupwanya had appeared before the committee with his finance director, Honest Murindagomo, engineer Waddilove Mandiziva and planning manager Charles Dini to speak on the billing system for farmers.
“The main challenges we have as Zinwa is unwillingness to pay for the water we deliver to various customers. This has impacted negatively on our ability to maintain infrastructure,” he said.
“The biggest debtors are local authorities owing $36 million, irrigators $37 million, other small farmers owe $5 million and government owes the rest, of which we do not have an exact figure now because they are offsetting it with value-added tax.”
Sakupwanya refused to divulge names of some of the individuals and organisations owing Zinwa huge sums of money even after being pressed to do so by Highfield MP Erick Murai, claiming it had signed confidentiality clauses with its clients.
The committee was also told that currently, Zinwa did not have a billing system and its water bills to farmers were based on estimates.
“Other challenges we have include the effects of climate change and we have to put in place mitigatory measures for us to guarantee water services to the nation. Pollution is also one of the challenges where there is inappropriate sewage disposal by local authorities,” Sakupwanya said.
“Gold panning and use of inappropriate chemicals also impacts negatively on water sources. The other problem is siltation resulting from negative land use practices.”
The Zinwa boss urged legislators to educate their constituents to desist from bad practices such as stream bank cultivation and urge them to construct contour ridges and to avoid deforestation, which affected the water
MPs complained about the high water charges to farmers with Josephine Chitembwe (MDC Proportional Representation) saying this was not justified.
“We do not sell water. What we sell are the services. We are also not a profit-making organisation. The Water Act also stipulates that water rights are vested in the President and so water is a natural resource where there is no private ownership,” Sakupwanya said.
Currently, A2 farmers are charged $5 per magalitre down from $12,19 in 2009.