IN a move that has raised eyebrows, Treasury last month released US$43 million to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), an amount which tallies with what the parastatal is owed by top security officials, Zanu PF bigwigs and senior bureaucrats in unpaid water bills, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Elias Mambo
Zinwa sources this week said the funds were released after a series of meetings between the water authority and officials from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate over unpaid water bills by top officials which were crippling operations.
Ministry officials then demanded lists of “chefs” who owed Zinwa and the amount each official owes.
“We compiled a list of all politicians who had not paid Zinwa and to our surprise we then received the funds. It was after the compilation exercise that we were told Treasury was going to release US$43 million and that has been done.
“We were given our salary backlogs for the past six months as well as our 2016 annual bonuses as a result of the payment,” the source said.
Zinwa public relations officer Tsungirai Shoriwa requested written questions. However, he has not responded to an e-mail sent to him more than a fortnight ago.
Prior to the disbursement, Zinwa was struggling to pay its employees and was at one time taken to court by its works council over unpaid salaries.
In a memorandum addressed to staff members dated July 14 2017, Zinwa chief executive officer Jefter Sakupwanya advised that the January 2017 salaries would be further delayed.
“Management would like to notify all staff members that we shall experience delays in the January 2017 salary payments,” reads the memo.
“This follows a court order granted in favour of Zewu (Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union) against Zinwa by the High Court of Zimbabwe in the sum of US$131 000. We need to comply with the order. We are currently redirecting the financial resources we have been saving for salaries in order to make good the court order.”
As reported by the Independent in August, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander General Constantino Chiwenga owes Zinwa US$80 000 in unpaid bills while Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Boniface Chidyausiku, who owns Mufenje Farm, has arrears amounting to US$45 000.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri owes Zinwa US$40 000, while Local Government minister and Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere’s Cornucopia Farm has a debt of US$34 284.
The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, David Chapfika, has a debt of US$26 000, while legislator Kenneth Musanhu owes US$25 000. Zanu PF deputy political commissar Omega Hungwe has a US$19 000 debt for Great Riversdale Farm.
Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi owes the water authority US$5 000, while Brigadier-General David Sigauke, who owns Kandy Farm, Mashonaland Central provincial affairs minister Martin Dinha and Judge President George Chiweshe’s (Verona Farm) owe US$4 000 each. Education minister Lazarus Dokora has a US$2 000 water bill.
Other than politicians and securocrats, government departments also owe Zinwa US$48 million.
These include the Defence ministry which has failed to pay off its US$19 million water bill.
Defence ministry secretary Martin Rushwaya acknowledged the debt and told the Wonder Mashange-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment a fortnight ago that the arrears had accumulated at a rate of US$500 000 per month because of inadequate budgetary allocations from the Finance ministry.
Other government debtors include Ministries of Home Affairs (US$9 million), Health (US$9 million), Justice (US$6 million), Agriculture (US$2 million), and several others that owe amounts ranging from half a million downwards.