– ZINWA is taking over owing to the City of Harare’s failure to supply water to its residents, a top government official said.
Harare, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwean government has empowered its parastal, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), to oversee the management of Harare City Council water with immediate effect.
A statutory instrument to this effect will be gazetted soon in a bid to give ZINWA those powers.
“We are actually making the change in the legislation in order to give them (ZINWA) the role; now they are able to go to a local authority such as Harare, like what an auditor does by auditing a firm in a year.
They will be able to conduct a water audit for the City of Harare and be able to advise them, and that will now be a legislated function within ZINWA to avoid us reacting in this manner when a local authority fails to do that audit,” said Dr. Anxious Masuku, Chairman of the National Action Committee on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, who is also the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development.
When a local authority does its water master plan, ZINWA, who is the government water engineer, will then reflect on it to see how it fits into the national water development plan.
In his remarks, Dr. Masuka said that ZINWA is taking over owing to the City of Harare’s failure to supply water to its residents; hence, a national action committee on water has been formed.
The committee comprises the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development as chair, the Minister of Health and Childcare, and the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.
Masuka suggested that the City of Harare is now producing 302 megaliters of water per day due to an inadequate supply of treatment chemicals, owing to the city’s cash flow constraints.
“The government has resolved to purchase a month’s supply of chemicals for the immediate relief of residents. This will increase treatment water production capacity from the current 302 ML/day to 520 ML/day,” Masuka said.
The current treatment capacity of the City of Harare is 520 ML/day, comprising 450 ML/day from Morton Jaffray and 70 ML/day from Prince Edward Works.
The constrained production has limited the water supply to mainly Chitungwiza, the Central Business District, and the Western Suburbs, with no water being delivered to the northern and eastern suburbs such as Mabvuku, Tafara, and Hatcliffe.
The estimated water demand for the Greater Harare areas is 1200 ML/day, with a daily water demand increase that is failing to match the supply.
According to Ministry of Lands data, the design deficit currently stands at 496 ML/day, as only two water systems are supplying water to the City of Harare.
The Seke and Harava systems feed into Prince Edward Water Works, and then the Lake Chivero system feeds into Morton Jaffray Works.
At the moment, no water is being abstracted from Lake Manyame as the intake works are currently down.
As of September 22, 2023, the Harare Water Supply Dams stood at 84.6%, or a rough 26.3 months of uninterrupted water supply to the City of Harare.
The City of Harare is currently using water treatment chemicals worth between US$2.5 million and US$3 million per month against a shrinking revenue collection base.
The main chemicals are purchased from a local entity, Zimbabwe Phosphorus (ZimPhos), as the City of Harare is unable to purchase the chemicals from outside the country.
The 2015, 2017, and 2020 audit reports pointed to a number of issues that have eroded residents’ trust in the city’s competence.
Their billing system is believed to be in shambles with unexplained duplicate bank accounts that are linked to the city’s transfer system.
Most of the transactions are being done manually as the BIQ billing system that runs on the Enterprise Resource Platform was disbanded on March 21, 2019 over a dispute over bank reconciliation and trial balances.
This has resulted in the City of Harare’s failure to collect maximum revenue from the rate payments, as the majority of rate payers are boycotting owing to non-service delivery.
Harare Mayor Ian Makone told ConserveZim that a statement in response to the latest development was going to be issued on Tuesday, October 3, but had not been issued at the time of publication.
“We shall be releasing an advisory later today to further clarify the issues and measures to sustain water supplies in the short and medium term,” Makone said.
Precious Shumba, director of the Harare Residents Trust, welcomed the government’s move.
“This is a most welcome intervention by the central government; the secondment of more technically competent personnel is a great move. This will help build the capacity of the City of Harare to deliver potable and safe water to residents of the metropolitan councils, which largely rely on Harare for their drinking water,” Shumba said.
“The Harare Residents Trust urges the central government to go beyond the supply of water treatment chemicals to include the phased replacement of obsolete underground water and sewerage pipes,” he added.
The City of Harare says almost 60% of treated water is lost through leakages and illegal connections along the water distribution network.
This means that even at the current suppressed pumping and treatment capacity, the plugging of the leakages, or better yet, the overhaul of the water distribution infrastructure, will automatically increase the number of households and people receiving council water.
“Ultimately, when the water problem is sorted out, payment of rates by satisfied residents will happen without any effort. Currently, revenues are depressed because the City of Harare has been unable to provide the most essential services to its residents.
These services include water supplies, sewerage treatment, and the maintenance of a clean environment,” Shumba hinted.
However, some residents in Harare felt the government’s intervention was meant to undermine the spirit of devolution in all opposition-led councils, including Harare.
“This could be a smarter way of dealing with the opposition-led council without imposing a commission like in the past,” one resident said.
During the 2023 harmonised election campaign, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was seeking his second and last term, kept on hammering on the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC)-led urban councils for their alleged failure to provide water.