THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) yesterday claimed that it was owed $39 million in unpaid water bills by farmers.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Zinwa chief executive officer Jefta Sakupwanya made the claims when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Indigenisation led by Senator Monica Mavhunga.
Sakupwanya was accompanied by Zinwa financial director Ellen Chivaviro.
The two disclosed that despite being given a chance to pay their bills after the agricultural marketing season, most farmers were reluctant to settle their arrears.
“The main challenges faced by Zinwa are that after we provide water to farmers, we find there was unwillingness on their part to pay for that water and since 2009 we are owed $39 million by farmers,” Chivaviro said.
“They are unable to pay despite that we put stop orders with the Grain Marketing Board, and the price for that is that we (Zinwa) are unable to maintain the dams.”
Chivaviro added streambank cultivation was causing siltation of dams.
Zinwa director for water supplies and operations Albert Mare said they only charge farmers who get their water supplies from public dams. He said what was charged for is not the water, but development and management of the water supplied.
“The water charged for communal farmers was reduced from $5 to $2 per megalitre, A1 farmers from $7,80 to $3, A2 farmers $12, 19 to $5 and commercial agriculture from $12, 68 to $12 per megalitre which is equivalent to one million litres of 5 000 drums of water,” Mare said.
Zinwa engineer Taurai Maurukira told the committee that rain-fed agriculture was no longer sustainable with the country getting 42 billion cubic litres of water annually, which means there is need for water harvesting.
“Zinwa intends to rehabilitate 266 dams destroyed by Cyclone Dineo and the cost will be $67 million. We intend to desilt more than 400 dams,” Maurukira said.
Agribank CEO Sam Malaba also appeared before the committee were he revealed that the bank was now performing well after it received capitalisation of $54,4 million, which steered the bank into profitability since August 2015.
He said the bank needs to be further capitalised to reach $100 million by 2020 to adequately support agricultural activities in the country.
Malaba said inadequate funding of the bank was due to the political high risk of the country by international financial institutions as the country is associated with high political risk cover.