Gwanda residents have reacted angrily at the move by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to impound vehicles belonging to the Municipality of Gwanda over a ZW$17 million debt for water supplies.
Gwanda Residents Association, secretary-general Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo issued a statement expressing disdain over the impounding of the more than 10 service vehicles which emergency service vehicles such as fire tenders and ambulances on Tuesday.
Fuzwayo noted that residents have over the years demanded an end to the dual administration of water supplies, with a specific call for Zinwa to handover the water purification plant to the local authority.
He said from the last communication they had held with government officials in 2018, the residents were advised that the government had committed to releasing the plant to the local authority in the spirit of devolution of power and responsibilities.
“We are advised that this is due to a never-ending feud over a continuously ballooning debt that the Municipality is alleged to be owing to the national water authority for purified water pumped into the town. After the last meeting, we were optimistic of a positive outcome but the promise has since turned out to be just another of those with no commitment to it,” said Fuzwayo.
Fuzwayo noted that the stance taken by ZINWA has revived the residents’ need to fight for their right to water and service delivery.
“ZINWA’s move to possess our service delivery vehicles especially emergency service vehicles and the continuous water disconnections that we experience is to us a direct provocation and utter disregard of not only our rights but also our welfare as residents of Gwanda,” he said.
He said the accruing debts are a result of exorbitant water charges which the residents are struggling to pay, citing that the services they get from the local authority do not warrant the amount of money they pay.
“We clearly spelt it out to council that residents will never be in a position to pay the exorbitant estimated and fixed water charges that are levied on them for water that is never provided and we are not disengaging from that stance,” said Fuzwayo.
“We cannot continue to be taken for granted by service providers who prioritise their own agendas at the expense of the welfare of the thousands of residents of our town. The long periods of dry pipes and numerous excuses, not reasons, for the failures to provide us with water and other services for that matter must come to an end.”