A CLASH is looming between the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and Harare City Council over non-payment for water treatment assets taken over
by the parastatal.
Sources at Town House said council shot down a government directive to transfer council workers, liabilities incurred by council on water treatment chemicals and other assets to Zinwa at no cost.
Despite the protest, Zinwa proceeded to take over the Harare bulk water supply, Morton Jeffery Waterworks plant, workers and other council assets, making a conflict imminent.
Council spokesman Percy Toriro confirmed that Zinwa had not paid anything since last year when it took over water distribution.
“It’s a year now since Zinwa took over water distribution but they have not paid anything,” Toriro said. “It is not likely that Zinwa will pay anything to council.”
Zinwa chairman Willie Muringani said the authority was not going to pay anything to the city council because that would unnecessarily increase water rates and overburden the ratepayer.
“The assets we took over are owned by the ratepayers and for us to pay council would mean making ratepayers buy the assets for the second time,” Muringani said.
“Zinwa as a government-owned company would have to increase its water rates to get money to pay Harare council which translates to demanding more money from the ratepayer.”
Muringani said the assets were after all bought using government grants.
“Virtually all the assets were bought using government grants and loans so it is the government which decides the fate of the assets,” he said.
Council officials said assets taken over by Zinwa include all dams that supply water to Harare, treatment plants, engineering staff, houses and even the council bus, which used to ferry staff to the waterworks in Norton from Harare.
The rift is worsened by Zinwa’s continued failure to resolve Harare’s water crisis in the face of increasing demand due to the current hot spell. Harare’s northern, eastern and southern suburbs are experiencing serious water shortages and have been subjected to rationing, sometimes going for weeks without water.
Zinwa on Wednesday published its schedule of water cuts that would apply until the onset of rains expected in November.
The authority said “northern suburbs will be cut at 7am on days when the date is an even number, with supplies resuming at 7am the following day. Southern and north-eastern suburbs will be cut at 7am on days when the date is an odd number,” Zinwa said in a statement.