Zinwa gets tough on defaulting farmers

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (zinwa) has established stop order facilities with the Grain Marketing Board, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, Delta Beverages and farmer organisations to ensure that farmers pay their outstanding water bills after selling their produce.

These facilities assist Zinwa to collect money directly from these institutions as opposed to collecting from the individual farmers. The parastatal is owed $108 million by various clients who include farmers, domestic clients, local authorities, mines, schools and others.

Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga on Tuesday, said of the $108 million farmers who use raw water from the various Zinwa managed dams for irrigating their crops, account for over $26 million which translates to 24 percent of the total debtors’ book.

“This non-payment of water bills by farmers has adversely affected Zinwa’s ability to maintain the dams as well as to monitor river flows and produce relevant water resources management data.

“Dam maintenance and ensuring dam safety is one of the key functions of Zinwa and this is enabled through the payments from the farmers who use the water harvested in the dams,” she said.

She said Zinwa uses the “User Pays Principle” which is outlined in the Water Act that compels every user of water from a Zinwa managed dam to pay for water use. “Failure to comply by the farmers has had serious effects on the authority’s ability to execute its mandate.

“The Authority has put in place measures to get farmers to pay for water that include engagements with farmer organisations as well as establishing stop order facilities with the Grain Marketing Board, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board and Delta among others,” she said.

“Zinwa has also launched mobile revenue collection teams to visit farmers and collect what it is owed. These engagements are also buttressed by ongoing education awareness campaigns aimed at educating farmers on the need to pay for water. There is a general belief among farmers that water is a free God-given resource that does not need to be paid for. So the Authority is going all out in increasing awareness on water as an economic good,” she said.

Zinwa has also capacitated its technical staff on the ground with motorbikes and cars and has commissioned teams to monitor farming activities around our dams to ensure compliance by the farmers.

“The Authority has also learnt that there are some irrigators who are using water from Zinwa managed dams without the necessary water abstraction agreements in breach of the Water Act.

“The Authority appeals to such people to ensure they regularise their use with their relevant catchment offices. Failure to do that exposes concerned farmers to the risk of prosecution or disconnection of services,” she said.

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