The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Chitungwiza Sued

HARARE City Council has taken Chitungwiza Municipality to the High Court claiming outstanding water bills amounting to US$6, 4 million.The claimed US$6 473 960 was for the treated water supplied to the satellite town up to March 23 2011.

Chitungwiza that recently disclosed its total debt to Harare City Council and other creditors was in excess of US$20 million continued receiving more water from HCC to date.

Apparently, the satellite town now owes HCC in excess of US$10 million.

According to the summons filed at the High Court on August 16 2011, the parties entered into an agreement in which HCC would supply treated water to Chitungwiza for a fee.

The water from HCC would in turn be sold to residents of Chitungwiza.

HCC, according to the agreement, would bill Chitungwiza for the clean water supplied monthly.

Chitungwiza would also pay up the bills every month.

By March 23 2011, the outstanding bill stood at US$6 473 960, which amount, Chitungwiza Municipality has failed to pay.

HCC argues that it fruitlessly demanded payment of the debt from Chitungwiza resulting in the institution of the legal proceedings.

Chitungwiza Municipality denies ever signing the agreement in question challenging HCC to produce a copy of it.

It is Chitungwiza's contention that at some point the water was under the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

"The plaintiff is challenged to produce a copy of the agreement and the terms thereof. It will be noteworthy that at one point all water was under Zinwa," argues Chitungwiza Municipality.

Chitungwiza argues that the bills in question were partly based on estimates and that HCC should produce all the monthly bills.

Chitungwiza urged the High Court to dismiss the US$6,4 million claim with costs.

The struggling municipality has been hit hard by financial challenges resulting in the decline of the quality of service delivery.

Chitungwiza municipality has failed to adequately supply water to all residents and sewer bursts are all over the town.

Recently the workers downed tools after they had gone for three months without any salaries.

They had to return to work after a Labour Court order declaring the strike illegal.

At least 20 workers were dismissed from work over the strike.

Town Clerk Mr George Makunde, in a recent interview with the Herald, said the challenges facing the municipality were due to mismanagement by the previous town leadership.

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