22 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Zinwa On Brink of Bankruptcy

CONSTRAINED by the unrelenting liquidity crunch rattling the local financial markets, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) might soon find itself failing to provide safe drinking water as well as pay salaries.

Owed more than US$100 million by various consumers, chief among them irrigators, government departments and individuals, ZINWA is now a month behind paying its 2 500 workers and is failing to source enough water treatment chemicals and equipment.

The non-collection of debts has severely crippled the authority's operations to the extent that ZINWA has had to perform a delicate balancing act where it has to prioritise things such as water treatment chemicals, water treatment equipment and statutory requirements such as taxes and salaries. The development comes at a time when the country is battling to manoeuvre its way away from a repeat of the 2008 cholera disaster that affected close to 100 000 people and claimed more than 4 000 lives countrywide.

A spokesperson for ZINWA confirmed the authority was in a crisis.

"The authority also finds itself in a delicate situation owing to the nature of water as a strategic resource. Government policy prohibits ZINWA from disconnecting defaulters making the authority's ways of enforcing payment limited," said the spokesperson.

To cushion its workforce from the challenges they are facing, ZINWA is presently giving the workers free transport to and from work.

ZINWA is mandated to manage water for the State and ensure sustainable development and equitable distribution of the country's water resources.

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