SEVERAL members of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), who include Zanu PF officials and politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, may be charged wit
h contempt of court after they failed to carry out an investigative audit of trust funds as mandated by the High Court in July 2003.
The High Court ordered the MZWT board of directors to produce audited accounts for the organisation but four years down the line no audits have been produced.
In a ruling on an urgent application filed by Arnold Payne, a leading campaigner for the piping of water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo, High Court Judge, Justice George Chiweshe, on July 10 2003 ordered the MZWT board to produce within 30 days an investigative audit of the organisation’s finances.
But since then no audits have been produced by the MZWT board.
The respondents in the matter were cited as Dabengwa in his capacity as the chairman of the MZWT, and Kotsho Dube, the chairman of the MZWT general assembly.
Payne had applied to the High Court for an order compelling the organisation to conduct the audit after previous requests from members of the public for financial statements were ignored.
However, this week Payne wrote to the board of directors and warned that he was filing contempt of court charges against the board if the audits were not produced within a week.
Dabengwa chairs the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), the operational arm of the Trust, charged with the implementation of the project to bring water to Bulawayo from the river.
“I have written to all the members of the Trust letters informing them that I am taking legal action within the next seven days if they do not show evidence that they have taken steps to carry out the audit,” Payne said.
“It’s been too long since the High Court issued that order and I think they have not taken the courts seriously.”
The decision to institute an investigation followed media allegations of abuse of MZWT funds by senior members of the board while on a business trip overseas.
The MZWT has in the last decade failed to implement the project despite claims of support from the government and several false starts.
Meanwhile the city of Bulawayo has reported cases of diarrhoea as a result of water shortages after the number of people visiting council clinics for treatment increased in the last two weeks.
Council spokesperson, Phathisa Nyathi, however could not give details saying only that the clinics were treating those affected.
“Residents continue to fetch water from unprotected sources as a result of the water shortages but we are urging them to stop the practice so that we can contain cases of disease outbreaks,” Nyathi said.
The council has introduced stringent water rationing schedules after three of the supply dams ran out of water.