A HEALTH disaster is looming in the border town of Beitbridge after the High Court dismissed its application seeking the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to be interdicted from installing a prepaid bulk water meter as not urgent.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The town, which owes Zinwa $12 million in unpaid water bills, was seeking the postponement of the installation of a prepaid water meter until it has completed its ongoing project of installing pre-paid meters for its residents and consumers.
Beitbridge town secretary Loud Ramakgapola argued in the application: “It is the applicant’s submission that if the prepaid meter is operated on the bulk tank, there is a risk of outbreak of diseases as the applicant supplies water to some institutions of public nature like State hospitals, schools etc, and if it fails to pay the respondent in advance, there will be untold suffering.”
Despite the impassioned plea, Justice Clement Phiri ruled: “The matter is held not to be urgent and the applicant shall bear the costs on the ordinary scale.”
The judge agreed with Zinwa that the application was not urgent as the town had been aware of the impending installation of the prepaid meter since October last year.
Zinwa corporate secretary and legal adviser Loveness Mundirwa said: “I am advised and verily believe that it is a time-honoured principle applied in our courts that urgency which stems from a deliberate and careless abstention from acting by a party until the deadline draws near is not the type of urgency contemplated by the High Court Rules.”
The water authority also argued the installation of a prepaid meter was the only option that would compel Beitbridge to pay.
“The applicant (Beitbridge) cannot be allowed to obtain treated water from respondent without paying for such water and the operation of a pre-paid bulk water meter is the only effective way of ensuring that applicant pays for water duly supplied to it,” Mundirwa added.