The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has disconnected water supplies to about 20 000 Gwanda residents over a ZW$193.2 million debt accumulated over years.
ZINWA corporate communications and marketing manager Majorie Munyonga said they disconnected the Gwanda Municipality as part of an ongoing debt-recovery blitz.
The operation is targeting government departments, local authorities and other categories of clients whose accounts are ZW$2.4 billion in arrears. Parastatals, mines, industry, schools and churches are also owing large sums. Said Munyonga:
Of the total debt, government departments owe Z$1.011 billion, local authorities $607 million, farmers Z$395 million while domestic users account for $251 million.
This non-payment of water bills by clients has adversely affected ZINWA’s operations as the revenue generated from the water sales is used for the procurement of critical resources needed in the delivery of service. These resources include water treatment chemicals, fuel, electricity and plant spares.
Gwanda residents view the move as harsh considering that the water is disconnected amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gwanda mayor Njabulo Siziba said:
We had a payment plan with ZINWA. We’re urgently engaging them to understand why they have taken this drastic step.
Gwanda District Development Coordinator Thulani Moyo last Wednesday warned of a surge in coronavirus infections in the town, as he urged residents to maintain high hygiene standards including regular hand washing.
Residents are now forced to stand in line in queues at boreholes dotted around the town – risking new virus infections.
Most of Zimbabwe’s towns are supplied water by ZINWA, while major cities are responsible for supplying their residents with water.