Water management reverts back to local councils

By Tichaona Sibanda
30 January 2009

Robert Mugabe’s regime decided Thursday to restore management of water supplies to local authorities from next month, after the disastrous period in which the government parastatal, Zinwa, failed to supply clean water to many cities and towns resulting in the worst cholera outbreak in Africa for 15 years.

In a speech to parliament during presentation of the Budget in Harare, acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government had ‘noted Zinwa’s incapacity to deal with the water crisis.

It was in 2005 that the government decided to hand over water management to Zinwa.

‘Zinwa and local authorities should begin the process of smooth handover and takeover transfers. Given that water reticulation infrastructure in some major urban centres has become obsolete, government will be working with the respective local authorities in mobilising resources for the rehabilitation of such infrastructure,’ Chinamasa is quoted as saying.

In his budget Chinamasa said that in order to address the water and sewage challenges, government will set aside US$31,2 million in both urban and rural authorities. He said US$12, 9 million would go to Harare’s City Council.

There were also proposals to allocate US$4, 3 million to cater for upgrades at Morton Jaffray Water Works, as well as US$1 million for pipe replacement. A further US$135 000 would be allocated to the Bulawayo City Council for the rehabilitation of boreholes and upgrading of the treatment works.

The government U-turn to give water management back to city councils will come as a huge relief to millions of urban residents who have long been critical of Zinwa’s inefficiency to deal with the water crisis.

Where the millions of US dollars are supposed to come from is anybody’s guess.

 

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