Tinomuda Chakanyuka and Amanda Ncube, Sunday News Reporters
GWANDA Town Council has been ordered by the Bulawayo High Court to pay $1,8 million owed to Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) in unpaid water bills.
Zinwa, represented by James, Moyo, Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners approached the courts seeking an order compelling the local authority to pay for bulk water supplied between June 2009 and 31 May 2011. The two parties in 2009 agreed that Zinwa would cease water distribution but would continue with water purification and treatment for Gwanda Town Council at an agreed charge.
Initially Zinwa demanded $3,5 million, but the figure was brought down after the summons were amended to reflect the interests adjustments effected in 2012. Of the total owed to Zinwa, the local authority had only managed to pay $63 933,01.
High Court Judge Martin Makonese granted the order in favour of Zinwa, which will also see the Gwanda Town Council meeting costs of the legal suit.
“It is ordered that (by consent) the defendant pay the plaintiff the sum of $1 840 750,76 together with interests thereon at the prescribed rate of interest from the date of issue of summons to the date of payment,” read the order in part.
In their court papers, Zinwa claimed the local authority breached the agreement by failing to pay for the bulk water supplied despite numerous requests. Zinwa charged Gwanda $1 000 fixed charge per bulk water meter for the six meters and 92 cents per cubic metre supplied per month, as agreed by the two parties.
In their defence, Gwanda Town Council, represented by Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners argued that only two bulk water meters were functional yet Zinwa continued to invoice the local authority as though all the six meters were working. The local authority further argued that the figure that was being claimed by Zinwa was thus based on erroneous calculations compounded on the basis of six functional bulk water metres.
Gwanda Town Council owes Zinwa about $10 million in unpaid bills for bulk water supplied to the local authority. Zinwa on average bills Gwanda $105 000 per month and Gwanda on average is paying $30 000 per month for this service, a shortfall of around $70 000 per month, which has since accumulated to $10 million. The water authority recently disconnected water supply to Gwanda Town Council as it sought to force the local authority to service its account.
Meanwhile, Zinwa has started treating water for Lupane after completing its $2 million water treatment project the town.
Previously water treatment was done by the local authority before Zinwa took over.
“Lupane project was allocated $2,970 million and this amount will be used to rehabilitate the existing water infrastructure, construct water storage reservoirs and to expand reticulation network among other activities,” said Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Marjorie Munyonga.
She said the main objective of the project was to rehabilitate and upgrade water and sanitation treatment and distribution system in Lupane. Lupane town is one of the beneficiaries of the Zimbabwe National water Project (ZNWP) which is funded by Zimref (Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund) which is administered by the World Bank. Mrs Munyonga said besides Lupane, similar activities are currently taking place at Zimunya Township and Guruve Centre and more funds are expected to be mobilised for Gutu, Madziwa, Mataga and Nembudziya.