THE country is gripped by a water crisis of proportions never witnessed before, but authorities seem not to care a hoot as evidenced by their level of politicking when it comes to providing a lasting solution to this perennial problem.
The Water Act mandates central government through Zinwa with the provision of raw water through water bodies, be they rivers or dams. The Act states that water cannot be owned by individuals or organisations, but these can be issued with permits to use it depending on availability. Thus local authorities cannot build dams of their own to augment existing capacity. They rely on Zinwa for such a critical service.
Zinwa being a statutory body under direct supervision of the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement ministry relies mainly on budgetary support, that is where the politicking begins. The government is aware that urban local authorities are hamstrung by the Act which works to their advantage because it does not want them to do well since they are predominantly opposition-led.
This politicking has dealt a huge blow to development and the ability of local authorities to provide potable water. The Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project, a panacea to Matabeleland and Bulawayo water woes, which has not seen the light of day since time immemorial, is used by the Zanu PF government as a campaign tool each time the country goes for elections.
This project requires political will for it to take off the ground which Zanu PF has lacked since the 1880s let alone now when it knows it will benefit MDC Alliance. The recent closure of one of the biggest companies in Bulawayo, United Refineries Limited because it had not received adequate water for a week, should have jolted any leader worth that name into action given the importance of that company to the city and the economy in general, but government did not move an inch because of Zanu PF leaders’ myopic politics.
Harare’s Morton Jaffray Waterworks has been intermittently closed due to lack of foreign currency to buy water purification chemicals and government has since taken over and made it known to all and sundry that it is now in control, for political mileage of cause. Ironically Harare has had perennial water challenges which did not find any joy from central government because it saw no political advantage.
Zanu PF leadership should discard this brand of retrogressive politics which favours those who support it and neglects those perceived to be opposition because it is the duty of a sitting government to ensure the welfare of all citizens despite political affiliation.