Richard Muponde/ Thupeyo Muleya, Chronicle Reporters
GOVERNMENT departments, businesses and educational institutions in Gwanda yesterday resolved to shut down, fearing a disease outbreak after Zinwa cut off water supply to the town.
The move came as Government has set up a seven-member commission of inquiry on the capacity of Gwanda and Beitbridge town councils’ capacity to take over water and waste water management from Zinwa.
The resolution to bring Gwanda to a standstill was made at an all stakeholders meeting held at the council chambers chaired by the mayor, Councillor Knowledge Ndlovu yesterday.
The stakeholders resolved that the environment was no longer conducive to continue operating.
Former Gwanda executive mayor and Zanu-PF member, Cde Rido Mpofu started the ball rolling.
“If we look at the situation we have colleges like Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College which has a huge number of students, schools, clinics and hospitals are operating without water for more than two months now. This shows that the systems of governance in Gwanda have totally collapsed. It shows somebody has an agenda and who is this person? Why are they denying residents this precious resource?” asked Cde Mpofu.
JMN Polytechnic principal, Dr Ngoni Moyo said the situation reflected negatively on the Government as residents were no longer blaming Zinwa or council.
“This is a minus to the Government as people are no longer talking about the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate but are asking themselves what kind of a Government this is. As for my institution we are in dire straits as over 2 000 students residing at the new college campus are living without water. In such a situation what would the principal do as she and her deputy principal are also living without water,” asked Dr Moyo.
She said whoever was responsible for the water shortages was being unfair and could be driven by sinister motives.
“How are we supposed to handle the situation? The problem we are seeing is bigger than we think as the Government is viewed in bad light. We have to solve this issue once and for all,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by former Gwanda deputy mayor, Alderman Petros Mukwena.
“There’s one person who is mandated by the Constitution to provide potable and clean water to the people in terms of Section 77 and it’s President Mugabe, all of us are auxiliary. He’s the one who devolved his powers to us to administer water. What Zinwa is doing or be it council, if we fail him, we are making his job difficult. The two quasi-government departments should not be at war because their mandate is to push the Zim-Asset agenda. Water is also a security threat,” said Ald Mukwena.
Stakeholders expressed anger at the way the water situation in Gwanda was being administered.
They resolved to shut down business in Gwanda as it has become a health time bomb to continue working.
All departments agreed they would inform their head offices about the shutdown.
Meanwhile, a seven-member commission appointed by the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri to investigate Gwanda Town Council’s capacity to run the water and waste water management system, will begin work on Monday next week.
The committee is chaired by the deputy director in the ministry, Mr Gilbert Maware.
It is also expected to visit Beitbridge between June 25 and 30.
Mr Maware has since written to BTC authorities notifying them of their intent to visit the town on a fact finding mission.
He said the commission will hold joint meetings with local authority management, councillors, Zinwa catchment staff, and local residents’ association and visit to see the infrastructure for water and waste water.
He added that they will also carry out an assessment of human resources, technical capacity and financial capacity, and assess the billing system capacity.
The poor supply of water in a town of 73 000 residents plus a daily transit population of 13 000, has seen 70 percent of the residents petitioning Zinwa to hand over management of water to the local authority.
They argue that the $1,05 Zinwa is charging Beitbridge council per kilo litre of water is expensive considering that the Musina residents in South Africa are surviving on R20 ($1.50) worth of water per month.