BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/ FARAI MATIASHE/RUVIMBO MUCHENJE
Harare City Council has secured water treatment chemicals to last for only seven days amid claims that the $37,4 million offered by Treasury was yet to be transferred into the coffers of the local authority.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, acting mayor Enock Mupamawonde said they had received chemical supplies from Bulawayo, while other chemicals, bought from South Africa, were awaiting clearance at Beitbridge Border Post.
He said they were expecting to resume water production late yesterday. This comes after the city council shut down its main water treatment plant on Monday citing shortage of chemicals.
However, supplies will cover a period of seven days while awaiting a permanent solution to the problem.
“Harare City Council has found contingent supplies of chemicals to resume water production three hours from now. The suppliers of the chemicals have been paid. The other quantities are coming from Bulawayo and are expected to arrive this evening (yesterday),” Mupamawonde said.
“The secured quantities will only last seven days during which period other quantities will be secured. We are currently engaging all stakeholders that include government to find a lasting solution.”
The acting mayor said the closure of Morton Jaffray water works was a practical decision arrived at after council ran out of chemicals and could not afford to pump dirty water to the residents without risking an outbreak of diseases.
He further said the council had sourced its own funds to purchase the water chemicals since the $37,4 million pledged by Treasury was yet to be released.
Earlier, mayor Herbert Gomba also told NewsDay that the money promised by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had not yet reflected in the council bank accounts.
Gomba said council now had a billing system which was approved by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
Council water committee chairperson Jacob Mafume said the issue of water problems could have been resolved a long time ago as the government was relying on Lake Chivero alone, which was only built for recreational purposes by the settlers and not for human consumption.
“The Harare City Council is working hard under the circumstances to ensure that residents get water, including ensuring that water bowsers are provided in the communities and that the boreholes in the various wards of the city are working so that at any given moment, there is constant water supply to the residents,” Mafume said.
These temporary measures to solve the water problems came after MDC secretary-general Chalton
Hwende and the opposition party’s local government secretary Elias Mudzuri held a crisis meeting with the acting mayor and MDC councillors to appreciate the water crisis in the capital.
In a statement, the party said it was satisfied with the explanation given to them to shut down Morton Jaffray, saying they could not afford to pump dirty water to the residents.
“The party was satisfied with the explanation given by the leadership of council that the city had run out of chemicals and could not afford to pump dirty water to the residents without risking an outbreak of diseases. Currently, water treatment has begun at the city’s water works and the precious liquid is expected to start trickling into residents’ homes by end of day today (yesterday),” MDC deputy national spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.
“It emerged from the meeting that central government is at the centre of the current water crisis bedevilling the capital city. Government is the biggest debtor to the Harare City Council while there has been no movement in the past 20 years in terms of the construction of the Kunzwi Dam, which is expected to provide a permanent solution to Harare’s dire water situation.”
The MDC further blamed the Zanu PF government for allegedly using Kunzvi Dam project for campaign purposes since 1995.
“It also emerged that government has centralised the procurement of water chemicals and every day, council waits to get the trinkets in terms of water chemicals as and when the scarce foreign currency becomes available at the central bank,” Tamborinyoka said.
Meanwhile, the Harare Residents’ Trust director Precious Shumba has called for the suspension of Gomba, town clerk Hosea Chisango and acting director of water works, Mabhena Moyo, with immediate effect, saying they had breached the residents’ constitutional right to clean water.
“We are calling for the government to suspend the town clerk, mayor and director of works with immediate effect because their actions have compromised the right to provision of water. The future and present generations are already suffering from poor mismanagement of City of Harare,” Shumba said.