MUTARE city council has blamed government — which ordered all local authorities to scrap debts they were owed by residents last year — for the current water crisis bedevilling the eastern border city.
BY CLAYTON MASEKESA
Most suburbs in Mutare were last week without water after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) cut supplies to the city citing non-payment.
Mutare mayor, Tatenda Nhamarare last week said council was engaging the water authority with the hope of resolving the crisis.
“I expect the situation to change soon, but one thing that needs to be cleared out is that before elections government directed all councils to scrap off all that the residents owed as a way of gaining votes, but they forgot that the same councils owe other parastatals, including Zinwa,” he said. “Zinwa is cutting off water supplies and we are grounded.”
A senior official with Mutare City Council, who cannot be named for protocol reasons said: “The dryness is as a result of the non-payment [of bills]. As of now, we are relying on our Pungwe River reservoir but it cannot meet demand.
“We have engaged Zinwa and hopefully they will act in the public interest.”
The official castigated Zinwa saying it must not have rushed to cut water supplies to the council.
“City of Mutare is owed millions of dollars by strategic government departments like health, police, education and defence, but has not dared to cut off water supplies,” said the official. “What value is Zinwa adding to this water equation?”
No comment could be obtained from Zinwa by the time of going to print.
MP for Dangamvura-Chikanga, Arnold Tsunga said Zinwa directly violated the constitutionally-guaranteed right of residents to safe and potable drinking water by cutting supplies.
“City of Mutare also needs to act in a way that helps for the realisation of this right by everyone in Mutare and resolve issues of money leakages that have resulted in failure to finish projects that guarantee supply of safe drinking water to Dangamvura and Chikanga,” said Tsunga. “Zinwa must not blame anyone if society organises itself to defend their constitutional right to safe water.”
The city reportedly lost US$330 000 to a private company in 2012 after the firm failed to supply and fix water pipes that could have helped alleviate water woes in the town.
As a result of poor water supply, cases of diarrhoea have been reported in some parts of Darlington, Palmerstone and Morningside low-density suburbs.
Residents fear the outbreak of diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery.