Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Police here yesterday stopped residents from demonstrating against the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (zinwa), whom they accuse of triggering month-long water shortages dogging the town.
The Combined Residents Association (CRA) had notified the police of their intention to march to the local zinwa offices to hand over a petition calling on the parastatal to hand over the administration of water to the town council.
Police turned them down, citing security reasons for fear of a repeat of violent demonstrations that left key infrastructure destroyed in July last year.
Beitbridge residents, most of whom survive on cross border-related projects, ran riot last year after Government removed some basic commodities from the open general import licence (OGIL).
People now need to apply for permits from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for them to import specified basic commodities from South Africa.
There was heavy police presence in all the crime hot spots area of the town to prevent incidents of violence yesterday.
CRA spokesperson Mr Morgan Ncube said they were not happy with the manner in which zinwa was handling water affairs in the town.
“The behaviour by zinwa is deplorable,” he said.
“They have failed to run our water and hence we have a petition signed by over 2 500 residents, who no longer have faith in the parastatal.
“They installed bulk water meters in the town against residents’ and town council’s will.
“In addition, their water charges of $0,92 per cubic metre is unreasonable. To make matters worse, our water administration is being handled by someone who is in Bulawayo.
“We feel it will be better to have the issue of water being handled by the town council, which is readily accessible whenever we have grievances.”
Chairperson of the Beitbridge Residents Association (BRA), Ms Rumbedzani Ribombo said it was absurd that zinwa was charging $7 000 for the town’s supply of water.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he was yet to get information on the intended demonstration.