Harare City Council yesterday cut water supplies to the entire Harare metropolitan area, citing the shortage of critical treatment chemicals even though the Government last week released $37,4 million as part of interventions to improve water access and waste water treatment.
Council spokesman Mr Michael Chideme said Harare's water treatment plant, Morton Jaffray, had stopped pumping water because council was incapacitated.
"As we speak, Morton Jaffray is not operating, we ran out of the critical chemicals early this morning (yesterday) and the plant had to be shut down so we have to run around to try and get supplies from even suppliers whom we do not have contracts with."
The development was met with anger from the Government and residents who suggested the need to set up a commission to run the affairs of the city following the all-time low which may put three million lives in danger.
Mr Chideme said firms could only supply water chemicals after 24 hours, being time for delivery.
"They (chemicals) have to be imported so right now they are busy trying to organise the shipment of the consignment into Zimbabwe and subsequently to Harare so that we can resume treatment of water," said Mr Chideme.
"If you have been following our arguments on water, even if the chemicals were to come today we cannot exceed our treatment capacity of around 300 million litres a day now, because of the poor quality of the raw water in our dams and also the dwindling levels of water in the dams in Lake Chivero and Lake Manyame."
He also cited drought as the major cause of water shortages.
"We have also shut down one of our water treatment plants, Prince Edward because Seke and Harava dams are dry. There is no longer any water to treat so we are in a drought season.
"The only solution that will allow everybody to get water is the construction of new additional water bodies," he said.
Harare City Council acting Mayor, Councillor Enock Mupamawonde said the situation has reached alarming levels.
"It is quite stressful. We do not see the situation improving if nothing is done very soon. It is the reason why we make the appeal to central Government to avail at least $20 million to procure chemicals," he said.
However, Government last week released money to the council.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana confirmed that the Government released the $37,4 m to Harare City Council and pointed out that the city's incapacitation had everything to do the local authority's management.
"I can confirm that the Government has released funds to Harare City Council," Mr Mangwana said.
"The move was initiated by the Government and not the council. The Harare City Council's billing has not been functioning for the past five months that is the reason why they are broke. It is an inefficient council putting the life of the residents at risk. The Government will not fold its hands," said Mr Mangwana.
"We cannot have a council politicking. We cannot politicise the issue of water. There is no need to play around with residents lives," he said
Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said the city fathers had failed hence the central Government should intervene.
"Its high time the Government sent a clear message to errant councillors who are failing to provide clean water to residents," he said.
"There is lack of planning and sensitivity in the part of the city fathers. They should not blame the central Government using Kunzvi dam as scapegoat
"I understand 60 percent of treated water was leaking during the distribution network process, illegal connection of water by the Harare City Council engineers, hence the City council is responsible," he said.
Zanu-PF Youth League Secretary for Administration Cde Tendai Chirau said the situation was worrisome, necessitating change of guard in the city.
"There is no reason for us to have the Harare City council management at work. The Ministry of Local Government should set up a commission composed of technocrats to run the affairs of the city council for the betterment of the already suffering residents," said Cde Chirau.
The Council, Cde Chirau said should have the high yield capacity boreholes through out Harare to ease water supplies in Harare.