Government squarely to blame for water crisis in Zimbabwe’s cities – not the MDC-T councils


Cross said for the Minister to blame MDC led Councils for the death of just 500 people this year is simply laughable.

“ZANU-PF and the Minister himself are guilty of deaths on a scale that could easily be described as genocide. What else do we call the tens of thousands of women who die each years in childbirth or the tens of thousands of children who die before the age of five or the 30 000 people who die from Malaria or the 60 000 people a year who die of Tuberculosis,” he said.

Full statement:

Monday, 16 January 2017

Water crisis – The background 

In the pre Independence era the Town planning authorities and Central Government planned that each City/Town should have roughly 3 years supply in storage at any one point in time. At that time with population growth doubling every 20 years and urban populations growing at 6 per cent per annum with the drift from rural areas to the urban centers, this meant that we had to build a major new dam for raw water supply every 5 to 10 years. Urban Councils were left to build their own dams with State assistance and water sales constituted a significant proportion of income to Councils on top of electricity sales, license fees including vehicle licenses, rates and taxes.

Since Independence the Central Government has steadily stripped Councils of revenue sources starting with electricity sales and the transfer, without compensation of the two thermal power stations in Harare and Bulawayo to ZESA, the loss of control of bulk water supplies to ZIMRA who now charge for bulk water supplies even from dams built by the Councils and the loss of vehicle license fees. In addition no new dams have been build now for over 25 years despite rapid urban expansion – so that today the infrastructure supplying Harare metropolitan area with over 6 million inhabitants, has a water infrastructure for a City of half a million people.

 Bulk storage of water in all urban areas is down to 18 months or less rather than the 3 years previously stipulated and plans for new bulk water sources such as the Gwaai/Shangani and Harare North water supplies, have not made any progress despite years of planning and promises. Bulk water supplies remain the monopoly of ZINWA which has failed dismally and cannot even manage the aquifer system to the north of Bulawayo which has the potential to supply the full requirements of the City.

In addition to this, the decision, for purely short term political reasons to cancel, at the stroke of a pen, over US$600 million in outstanding rates and taxes in 2013 by the then Minister Chombo has crippled the Urban Councils financially. With total revenues from all sources for all urban Councils now running at about US$600 million  a year, half of which is in Harare and urban council populations now exceeding 8 millions, gives the Councils a annual spend of just US$75 per capita per annum.

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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