THE Defence ministry has failed to pay off its $19 million water bills to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) since last year threatening the parastatal’s viability, Parliament heard yesterday.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Defence ministry secretary Martin Rushwaya acknowledged the debt and told the Wonder Mashange-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment that the arrears had accumulated at a rate of $500 000 per month because of inadequate budgetary allocations from the Finance ministry.
Zinwa claimed that government departments owed $48 million in water arrears, causing the parastatal to accumulate a six-month salary debt and failing to hire pivotal staff like engineers.
Other government debtors include the Home Affairs ministry ($9 million), Health ministry ($9 million), Justice ministry ($6 million), Agriculture ministry ($2 million), and other ministries that owe different amounts ranging from half a million downwards.
“The problem is that the budgetary allocation we get from the Ministry of Finance is so limited,” Rushwaya said.
“We got an understanding from the Ministry of Finance that we should certify our debts and send them so that they settle them through paying debts that Zinwa owes to other parastatals,” he said.
Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka (MDC-T) asked Rushwaya to explain why they were failing to pay Zinwa when the army is said to have mining concessions and different industries.
“It is a perception because we run tourism and mining projects but they have not yet matured and are at infancy and we have not yet reaped the benefits,” Rushwaya said.
Mashange said his committee will soon summon businessman Billy Rautenbuerg to appear before the committee to also explain his $5,7 million water bill to Zinwa.
“After the committee visited his estates Rautenberg paid $2,4 million and $2,9 million is still outstanding. He is into sugar cane production and has a monopoly in ethanol blending and therefore he has no excuse to fail to pay Zinwa its bill” Mashange said.
The committee heard that some unnamed politicians had blocked Zinwa from cutting water supplies at Rautenberg’s ethanol plant.