Gwanda Municipality, residents clash over water disconnections



GWANDA residents have clashed with their local authority over ongoing water disconnections targeting debtors.

The irate residents said that the decision to disconnect water supplies was inhumane, although it was meant to force defaulters to pay their outstanding bills.

The local authority claims it is owed $247 million in unpaid bills.

Gwanda Residents Association spokesperson Molvin Dube yesterday told Southern Eye that council did not give residents notice prior to disconnections.

“The council should have given notice to residents first through their councillors before taking this painful decision to cut water supplies. We cannot do without water, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dube said.

“Although we encourage residents to pay up their bills, the council should have collected its money from government departments first, where it is owed huge sums.  It should also pay what it owes to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).”

Dube said the water disconnections started last week in Spitzkop suburb and parts of Phakama suburb, adding that some of the residents’ water bills were between $15 000 and $22 000.

He said total debts owed by residents constituted only 30% of what the Gwanda Municipality was owed, adding that a bigger chunk  — 70% — was owed by government departments.

Mayor Njabulo Siziba said after council engaged stakeholders, it resolved that the water disconnections should stop by end of this week.

Siziba said residents should visit council offices and make payment plans.

“Our revenue collection has been greatly affected by the fact that most of our ratepayers are vendors and have no means of other sources of income,’’ he said.

Of the $247 million that the local authority is owed, $80 million is owed by residents and the remainder is owed by the commercial sector, while the local authority owes Zinwa $139 million as of end of February this year.

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