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ZINWA says unpaid bills hit $256 billion

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s water authority said on Thursday it was owed more than $256 billion by various consumers, hampering its ability to provide sustainable service amid a drought and a cholera outbreak.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) said in a statement that government ministries and departments, irrigating farmers, local authorities, mines and parastatals were among the defaulters, with some bills outstanding for as long as four months.

The non-payment of water bills has severely compromised ZINWA’s capacity to meet its obligations to its suppliers and settle statutory obligations such as taxes, the statement said.
It also said the situation had affected its efforts to help stop the spread of cholera, which has killed more than 4,000 people since August last year.

ZINWA said it had taken measures to recover the outstanding amounts, including engaging defaulting clients, taking legal action and disconnecting those in arrears.

It also urged clients who had difficulties settling their bills to present acceptable payment plans at its offices.

The authority said it would not disconnect irrigating farmers, who are facing a severe drought that has reduced crop output, but would work with them to ensure they use stop-order arrangements that allow ZINWA to recover its revenue when they sell their produce.

ZINWA appealed to all irrigating farmers to ensure that their water use was in terms of valid water abstraction agreements and that they take advantage of the existing stop order arrangements.

The authority reiterated that there was a correlation between paying for water and service delivery.

“When users and recipients of services do not pay, it becomes extremely difficult for utilities to provide reliable and sustainable services,” the statement said.

ZINWA says unpaid bills hit $256 billion