Individuals and companies selling bulk water from bowsers and in bottles should obtain permits from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to ensure the health of citizens is protected, a Cabinet Minister said on Tuesday.
Water Resources, Development and Management Minister Sipepa Nkomo said the companies should comply with regulations and standards that Zinwa stipulates.
"This enables monitoring the quality of the water being sold to consumers to ensure the health of the people," he said.
Minister Nkomo said registration would enable Zinwa to monitor the ground water levels to ensure that water was being abstracted at a sustainable rate.
Perennial water shortages in the country's cities presented an opportunity for enterprising dealers to sell water from bowsers and in bottles.
The dealers are selling 5000 litres of water for between US$50 and US$60.
He said water was a basic need which should be shared equally amongst all citizens.
"I have received numerous complaints that the rapid abstraction of water particularly in residential areas is causing a disturbance in ground water levels.
"It is for this purpose that we shall develop policies to guide the orderly and integrated planning of the optimum development, utilisation and protection of the country's water resources," he said.
He admitted that the government had failed to meet its obligation to provide safe clean water to citizens.
"I partly agree that as government we have failed, and it is for that reason that we are not stopping the bulk water companies, but we are encouraging them to regularise their operations," he said.
Minister Nkomo said some cases of typhoid were being caused by drinking water from contaminated boreholes.
"Not every borehole is safe, thus should be checked and tested in laboratories by Zinwa," he said.
Harare residents are relying on water from boreholes and wells as they shun piped water from Lake Chivero, which is contaminated with raw sewerage and exudes a funny smell.
Some parts of the city also do not receive water for long periods leading residents to buy from bowsers while others get it from boreholes.