By Vumani Mthiyane
Despite a government directive that Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) hand over the water treatment plant to Gwanda Municipality, the former is still holding on to the plant due to unpaid bills, CITE has established.
The standoff has affected residents who go for weeks without water.
The local authority owes Zinwa $270, 5 million and according to sources at the municipality and Zinwa, they will be required to pay $18 million a month to clear their legacy debt and purchase bulk water.
Gwanda Residents Association (GRA) secretary-general Wellington Nare said there was no political will to hand over the water treatment plant to the municipality.
“This is a continuation of the water struggles between Municipality of Gwanda and Zinwa. Despite the fact that the parent ministries have agreed to hand over the plant but there is no political will to hand over from these ministries.
On the 3rd of January, we petitioned both Zinwa, council and the Provincial Minister of state. However, following the installation of these prepaid meters by Zinwa, they agreed to activate them when the council had prepaid every residents. The activation of prepaid meters has left residents affected with serious water challenges as the council is supposed to pay before the service is provided,” explained Nare.
GRA spokesperson, Molvin Dube said the residents are planning to petition President Emmerson Mnangagwa to solve the water woes faced by residents.
Contacted for comment, Zinwa Corporate Affairs Communications and Marketing Manager, Marjorie Munyonga said they are in the process of implementing the government directive.
“In August last year, government through the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development; Dr Anxious Masuka, directed that ZINWA and Gwanda Municipality work on the handover of the water treatment plant to the latter.
In compliance with the direction, ZINWA and the Gwanda Municipality commenced engagements towards the handover. Deliberations of these engagements are confidential as per the understanding between the two parties,” explained Munyonga.
“Gwanda Municipality owes ZINWA a total of $270, 5 million as at February 28, 2022, for water supplied. To curb the further growth of this debt and for ZINWA to raise resources needed for the sustainable water supplies in the town while parties work on the handover, ZINWA has reactivated the bulk prepaid water meters for the municipality.
The meters allow Gwanda to pay for its water requirements in advance while also servicing the current debt, she added.
However, the council’s water purchases since the installation of the meters are away below the town’s water requirements, which has led to the current water supply disruptions being experienced in Gwanda.