Debt haunts Beitbridge Municipality
14 November 2023
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By A Correspondent- Beitbridge Municipality has been forced to introduce a four-day water-shedding regime after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) restricted supplies over an outstanding debt.

This is at a time when cholera is spreading across the country with 7 000 confirmed cases and 142 deaths to date. The municipality owes Zinwa ZWL$1,7 billion for water supplies.

Zinwa took over all water and sewage functions from most councils countrywide in 2006 following a government directive.

The unpopular decision was reversed after it was challenged in court, but Zinwa is still responsible for water supply to councils such as Beitbridge.

In a statement, the municipality said it was forced to introduce a tight water-shedding regime after Zinwa restricted water supplies to the border town.

“(The) Municipality of Beitbridge would like to advise residents and stakeholders that the town is under a restricted water supply schedule. This is due to low or non-payment towards water debts by ratepayers,” council spokesperson Raniel Ndou said.

“Currently, the municipality is paying Zinwa ZWL$35 million a week, while Zinwa is demanding that we pay between ZWL$40 million and ZWL$50 million per week.

“During this period, Zinwa has advised that it will restrict water supplies to four times per week.”

Ndou pleaded with residents to pay their bills.

“This can improve if we all mobilise our resources and pay our bills. The municipality is thus appealing to residents and stakeholders to prompt up payments for water so that we are able to remit the wèekly minimum and return to the unrestricted supplies.”

Ndou said Beitbridge was owed an estimated ZWL$2,5 billion by residents.

Businessman Elias Chibi said there was need to consider Beitbridge as a key town that has to be spared water challenges.

“But what is most important is for government departments to pay their bills. Residents should not be made to suffer because of government departments which have those budgets. These ministries are responsible for the people’s rejection of the ruling party in urban areas,” he said.

“When government departments fail to pay, the municipality fails to deliver. This should be looked at as sabotage on the part of the ministries.” NewsDay