- Residents in Binga say that most of them were turning to the river to bath and do laundry as the local authority has failed to provide enough water.
A 14-year-old boy from Binga Centre drowned last week while bathing in the Zambezi River and residents blame the incident on the water cuts impasse between the local council and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Binga Centre and some of its residential areas have gone for more than three weeks without water supplies, forcing residents to resort to the nearby Zambezi River. The centre is only three kilometres from the Zambezi River.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Chief Inspector Siphiwe Makonese on Friday could not readily confirm the death. However, police officers from the area confirmed the incident.
Residents in Binga say that most of them were turning to the river to bath and do laundry as the local authority has failed to provide enough water. Binga has been another centre of fight between Zinwa and the local authority over the control of water.
The local authority allegedly owes Zinwa more than $1 million.
Information gathered show that Binga RDC failed to settle the dues since 2014, prompting the water authority to shut the taps after a series of dead-end talks with council officials.
On Friday last week, a meeting with all affected parties was organised at the council offices but was abruptly cancelled as no one from council showed up. Residents accused council officials, Mr Lovemore Siamuyi of the social services desk, a Mr Dube who is the council treasurer, Mr Munkuli an administrator and councillors for frustrating efforts to find a solution to the water problem.
However, in an interview, Binga Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Joshua Muzamba said residents were not paying enough money to council to enable it to offset the Zinwa debt.
“Council cannot pay Zinwa what the residents have not paid,” said Mr Muzamba.
He said he was not at liberty to comment further as he was out of office.
“I’m not in the office. I understand there was a meeting taking place over the issue. Discussions to pay up the outstanding money are underway.”
Acting Binga District Development Coordinator Mr Farai Murinyame said he was seized with the matter and advised residents that Zinwa and council would meet in the coming days.
“Something is being done. On Friday I understand some council officials went to Hwange to meet Zinwa. Hopefully by next week water will be restored,” he said.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said while engagements with council were going on, the water utility has to act heavily on councils that default.
“There are engagements between council, Zinwa and the residents. What should be clear is that Binga Rural District Council has to settle what they owe,” she said.
Binga residents spokesperson Mr Richard Muleya said every month residents were paying to council.
“We cannot sit and wait for this to change. Council has to answer to this neglect,” he said.
The most affected residential area, which houses most residents, known as Emasotsheni last had water supplies in September.
The water problem has also affected the district hospital, schools and lodges in the area. According to a council water rate sheet, residents are paying a fixed charge of $583,80 per month. In successive months, residents said the council has even billed some property owners up to $3 000.
“Their bills are abnormal. In fact, we wonder how they arrive at such figures when they hardly come to read our meters,” said a resident in the area. ■