Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), for those of you who might not be fully aware, is a wholly government-owned entity that is tasked with managing the nation’s water resources. It was formed in the year 2000, has 7 catchments, and 534 water supply stations. Some of their core departments are namely; water conservation works to design and construction, groundwater and drilling services, and quality assurance. They have several on-going national water projects some of them in Lupane, Guruve, and Zimunya, amongst others. Some of their major stakeholders are city councils, Delta Corporation, Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Seed Co, and Tongaat Hulett.

ZINWA Owed Over ZWL$1.9 Billion

ZINWA recently pointed out that it is owed huge amounts of money by various entities. It highlighted that the list of debtors is broad as follows:

  • Government Ministries
  • Local Authorities
  • Irrigation Schemes
  • Domestic Clients
  • Agricultural Estates
  • Schools
  • Industries
  • Parastatals

Breakdown Of The Monies Owed

ZINWA availed the breakdown of the over ZWL$1.9 billion that it is owed. The breakdown as of February 28th of this year is as follows:

Government Ministries83826995244.71%
Local Authorities41263465522.01%
Domestic Clients24095999412.85%
Agricultural Estates336022641.79%

ZINWA has emphasised the importance of the money they realize from water bills. They say that the money is central to the following areas:

  • Water Treatment Chemicals
  • Water Treatment Plants Maintenance and Repair Works
  • Maintenance and Repair of Dams
  • Energy Costs
  • Statutory Obligations (e.g. Taxes and Levies)

Therefore they have cited that such huge amounts of arrears impede their ability to deliver their services as they should.

How They Plan To Recover The Monies Owed

ZINWA has since put in place some means to recover the money. The core strategies they are using are as follows:

  • Legal Action Against Defaulters
  • Client Engagements
  • Installation Of Prepaid Meters (New Clients)
  • Revenue Collections Blitz

Some Discussion Points…

Analysing The Arrears Breakdown

Government ministries constitute the highest debt amongst the debtors. They owe over ZWL$838 million which is 44.71 per cent of the total amount owed. This is very disturbing because you would expect that government should be at the forefront of setting a good example. The biggest question though is how do such huge amounts of debt accumulate to such levels? Ironically, domestic clients seem to be the ones that are pursued the most when it comes to water bills.

Recently Masvingo town woke up to graffiti all over buildings in the CBD written ‘Rates Must Fall’, ‘We Need Water Now’ and so on. This was after water rates had been sharply hiked. I was talking to someone in Masvingo town the other day saying that someone who was paying around ZWL$600 per month now has to pay around ZWL$3000, for just water. This was quite baffling for most residents given how water is barely ever available.

Even when you look at so-called arrears, for the most part, it is people who do not pay because water is barely available. There must be a balanced approach when it comes to recovering monies owed. A lot of the ZWL$1.9 billion owed is due to entities or individuals who use power to avoid the consequences of not paying.

Why Is Rainwater Harvesting Being Slept On

This is a topical issue because it is shocking to see how rainwater is left to go to waste. Just consider the heavy rains we received in the past few months. Not too long ago ZINWA was actually lambasted for not harvesting rainwater. Rainwater can be harvested and used for virtually anything. This is important because dams will not be spilling over throughout the year. There will come a time when those water levels will recede. Some are arguing that water spilling over from the dams right now could be collected and put to good use. ZINWA is adamant that spilling is normal and to be expected. They even say that it is not akin to any water loss. However, I personally do not see anything wrong in suggesting that excess water be collected and appropriated.

The ZINWA issues are heavily contentious and lately, water availability has been a huge problem countrywide. What do you think should be done to cultivate the sustainable availability of clean water? Where do you think the root problems are stemming from? Kindly comment below.