GOVERNMENT’S decision to hand over water and sewerage management to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is illegal as it directly contra
venes the Urban Councils Act which vests the management of the services to local authorities.
This week, government allowed Zinwa to take over all water functions in Harare that extend to distribution and billing of consumers with effect from today.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) chairman, Mike Davies said the Urban Councils Act does not provide that council may alienate water resources to a third party.
He said CHRA was putting together a resistance programme to force government to comply with the Act.
Davies said Part XIII of the Urban Councils Act which deals with water gives council power to provide water to consumers and allowing Zinwa to take over the responsibility was illegal.
“A council may provide and maintain a supply of water within or outside the council area. And for that purpose the council may: (a)In accordance with the Water Act [Chapter 20:22] take such measures and construct such works, whether inside or outside the council area, as it considers necessary for the purpose of providing and maintaining a supply of water; (b) enter into agreements for the purchase and sale of water and for any other thing necessary in connection with the maintenance and supply of water.”
Davies said Zinwa with the blessings of government had usurped the powers of a local authority.
“There is no provision for the privatisation of water,” Davies said.
“These are statutory requirements of the local authority. To make matters worse, water supplies in the city deteriorated to unprecedented levels over the past year when Zinwa started meddling in the water affairs.”
He said a CHRA general council meeting scheduled for this weekend would come up with a resistance plan.
Government said from December 1, Zinwa would also directly supply and bill residents of Ruwa, Epworth and Chitungwiza while work for a nationwide takeover is underway.
Burst water pipes and the replacement of worn-out pipes are now the responsibility of the water authority. Zinwa has also taken over the administration of Harare’s sewerage works with immediate effect.
All workers in departments dealing with water management who until now were under Harare City Council would be transferred to Zinwa.
Zinwa has also been ordered to import chemicals directly from manufacturers, effectively doing away with middlemen who have been fleecing the water authority through exorbitant price mark-ups.
Water tariffs for consumers in Harare will, with effect from this month, go up to $130 per cubic metre from $8, a 16-fold increase.
The price is for the first 20 cubic metres after which a punitive price is charged to discourage wastage.The price will be reviewed to $155 between January and March next year. Further adjustments of $180 per cubic metre will be introduced for the period April to June next year.