GWANDA residents have petitioned Parliament over water woes bedevilling the area, and also urged legislators to take measures to force the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to hand over water and sewerage management to the council.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Gwanda Residents Association and the Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT) also blasted Zinwa for its “indiscriminate” water disconnections to the entire town, exposing residents to waterborne diseases.
The Women Development Association in Zimbabwe (WDTZ), the Positive Women Trust (PWT), Gwanda Community Economic Justice Development Trust (GCEJDT) and Restoration of Human Rights-Zimbabwe (RoHR-Z) are some of the signatories to the petition dated May 23, 2017.
The organisations said Parliament must take action against Zinwa, arguing water is a human right, citing section 77 of the Constitution, which states that: “Every person has the right to safe, clean and portable water…and the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.”
“The petitioners beseech the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its oversight function and protect the constitutionally guaranteed right of Gwanda town residents to water. Wherefore, we pray that your honourable House will be pleased to take their case into favourable consideration, and grant any other such relief as it may deem fit,” the petition reads in part.
The petitioners asked Parliament to investigate “why Zinwa has dragged its feet on handing back the water treatment plant to the town council; the installation of a prepaid bulk water meter at the town’s reservoir by Zinwa; the indiscriminate water disconnections to the entire town by Zinwa, even to people whose payments for utilities are up-to-date”.
“The overcharging of residents for water consumption by the town council and the use of debt collectors to collect revenue owed from outstanding utility bills when the town council has admitted to having been overcharging residents,” the petition continues.
Gwanda is at loggerheads with Zinwa over its on and off plans to switch off water supplies to the Matabeleland South capital over an outstanding water bill.
The Gwanda council, instead, argues Zinwa must hand over the over water and sewerage management to it in line with the Urban Councils Act, which vests the management of the services to local authorities.
Government allowed Zinwa to take over all water functions countrywide in 2006, a decision that was later reversed following protests from local authorities. But Zinwa still controls the water supply and sewer infrastructure of some council such as Gwanda.