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Open letter to Minister Oppah Muchinguri - Gwanda water crisis

02 May 2017 at 09:15hrs | Views
Dear Honourable Minister O Muchinguri

Cc: Minister of Provincial Affairs Mat South

Gwanda water crisis

I sincerely hope that this correspondence finds you well madam.

Our WhatsApp discussions on the above issue refer,

It is our feeling that perhaps your office might not be well in the picture of the predicament that the residents of Gwanda are going through as a result of the water crisis emanating from the impasse between ZINWA and our Council on the administration of the water supply network.

As residents we have been trying to break into this impasse for almost five years now as the immediate people who are affected by the fight between the two quasi government bodies. All our efforts have so far failed which has necessitated that we seek the intervention of your esteemed office.

Our route to trying to find a solution to our water crisis has been long on our side not disregarding the efforts our council is also putting up.    

The highest level of direct engagement we have found ourselves in as residents was when together with our Council managed to meet with the then Water Minister Honourable Samuel Sipepa Nkomo in 2013.

In that engagement we made our position clear that we wished for the disengagement of the dual administration of our water system by having ZINWA hand over the water treatment plant to council.

We were advised by the Minister that your Ministry has always had no problems with the plant being handed over to council and ZINWA ending at supplying the council with raw water. We were also advised that assessments had been made by top engineers from both the Ministry and UCAZ where on reports were made that the Municipality Of Gwanda has the capacity to take over the plant and administer its own purified water.

The Minister further issued ZINWA with an instruction to stop disconnecting water from the town while the process was being finalised particularly with regards how the debt between the two parties would be settled.

The measures lasted a short time and the fights between the two bodies emerged again in early 2014 and more intense as we began getting longer periods without water. As residents we fostered for a dialogue with ZINWA where we had an engagement which ultimately led to a tripartite meeting between us the residents, council and ZINWA.

The engagement ended with an agreement that council and ZINWA were going to sit down and amicably agree on the actual debt between the two and payment terms there to. ZINWA also committed that they were prepared to hand over the plant as soon as all logistics were done and the debt issue finalised. This appeared as something that was going to be finalised in a few months.

While we thought the issue had been resolved late 2014, the water cuts resumed again. We again tried to seek for an engagement of our tripartite dialogue but this time ZINWA indicated that they were no longer in a position to engage with the residents in any capacity as their client is council not residents.

Seeing that we were not having any luck on local dialogue, we sent correspondence to the then Minister Honourable Saviour Kasukuwere seeking for his intervention after which the situation yet again improved temporarily but still ZINWA remained in place.

In the last year, Honourable Minister, our water situation has got more severe which has inevitably led to several resident mass actions which included resistance to pay for the water and sporadic low scale demonstrations by different sectors of our community.

The latest move which has necessitated that we see it fit to yet again seek audience with your office is that we have been going through lengthy waterless periods which we are told are as a result of ZINWA water cuts again. This time we are made to understand that ZINWA have installed bulk prepaid water meters to council supply points.

Madam Minister, it is our humble submission that with the current economic situation in the country it is evidently clear that it is impossible that both residents and council can be in a position to raise the bulk amount needed to purchase water in advance and still afford to make ends meet in other requirements.

Secondly, madam Minister, residents are currently involved in huge disputes with council over its billing system where council is unilaterally billing every water point an estimated 30m³ of water monthly which works out to over $30 per month on water per household. These charges are not affordable to the greater population of the town thereby severely affecting council revenue collection as residents are not in a position to pay for more than they have benefitted.   

We therefore as residents humbly request that your office urgently intervenes into our situation by getting into the impasse that remains between our council and ZINWA by being a mediator and forcing for the finalisation of the debt issue between the two which will see ZINWA exit our water administration as a matter of urgency for the good of the community.

We also submit that while this is on going ZINWA immediately removes its bulk water prepaid system which will ensure continuous supply of water to the town.

In summary, Madam Minister, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb of cholera and other waterborne diseases as residents are relieving themselves in the bushes and scavenging for water from very dangerous water sources.  

In our visit to the hospital last week as the Residents Association we encountered a critical situation where the hospital could be on the verge of closing down if no urgent action is taken. This could be the case in the schools which are due to open in a few days.

It is our hope as residents that following this correspondence your office will realise the dire situation that the people of Gwanda find themselves in and intervene as a matter of urgency.


Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo

Secretary General

Gwanda Residents Association

0716 486415 or 0777 953430

Source - Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo
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