By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, October 28, 2016 – ZIMUNYA residents in the eastern border city are drowning in debt which has mysteriously accrued after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has continuously sent bills to households for services that have never been rendered by the authority.
RadioVOP gathered that most residents in the peri-urban suburb have debts ranging from $300 to $1,000 in unpaid water and sewer charges.
It also emerged that among those with debts are households that were disconnected from the main water supply as a far back as 2009, together with others who have never been connected to water and sewer lines.
The majority of the residents, including those who are still connected to running water, currently use borehole and stream water to try and avoid high water charges.
Residents who converged at a community meeting on service delivery, which was organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe’s Mutare advocacy committee, vowed to resist any move to arm-twist them into settling the unjust debts.
The residents argued that the debts accumulated at a time Zinwa was providing water only twice a month whereas other billed sections had no provision of receiving water at all.
“What Zinwa is doing is very unfair, their charges are also unjustified. Most households are receiving monthly bills that are between $28 and $54 yet they only receive water twice a month. What these guys are doing is that they connect for two days at the end of the month when they move around demanding residents to pay up their bills,” said one Brave Chionemwa.
Another disgruntled resident, Stella Hwati said her bill indicates that she owed Zinwa $450 yet her water was disconnected in 2009.
Rosemary Gupa, who owes $900, said their section has no water and sewer pipes but every month they receive charges.
“I don’t know how they work their bills. But for us, we don’t have sewer lines, we don’t have water lines, our stands were not serviced. We use Blair toilets and stream water but I’m told that my bill is $900. Surely is this fair,” said Gupa.
This was echoed by over 50 other residents who attended the Misa Zimbabwe meeting.
Zanu PF Ward 32 councillor Josphat Gupwa said the issue of Zinwa had become a thorn in the flesh for the impoverished community.
Cllr Gupwa said Zinwa should reduce its water and sewer fixed rate charges pegged at $7 each.
He also indicated that Zinwa should slash all rates that were billed in the section where there is no water and sewer connection.
“What Zinwa is doing is unheard of. Their fixed rate charges are too exorbitant, before residents even start using water or their sewer. They already have a fixed charge of $14. This is just too high and should be reduced by 50 percent.
“Also, Zinwa cannot charge residents who are living in sections with stands that are not serviced. They cannot charge residents with no water and sewer provision. It defies logic to charge residents for services that are not provided for. So what we are saying is that they should revisit all the bills and clear the ones I have mentioned,” he said.
Attempts to get a comment from Zinwa were fruitless.