Zimbabwe: Water Tariffs - Zinwa’s Life Stream

Published by the government of Zimbabwe

21 October 2011

This is the first of 12 installments on Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) aimed at communicating with the authority’s stakeholders who among others include farmers, industrialists, local authorities, mining companies, social institutions like schools, hospital and prisons and individual water users across the length and breadth of this country.

Zinwa was established in 2000 through an Act of Parliament, the Water Act Chapter 20:24.

The authority was established by the said Act with the following functions according to section 5 of the law;

(1) Subject to this Act, the Water Act (Chapter 20:24), and any other enactment, the functions of the Authority shall be - (a) to advise the Minister on the formulation of national policies and standards on - (i) water resources planning, management and development; and (ii) water quality and pollution control and environmental protection; and (iii) hydrology and hydrogeology; and (iv) dam safety and borehole drilling; and (v) water pricing; and (b) subject to the Water Act (Chapter 20:24), to assist and participate in or advise on any matter pertaining to the planning of the development, exploitation, protection and conservation of water resources; and (c) to exploit, conserve and manage the water resources of Zimbabwe with the objective of - (i) securing equitable accessibility and efficient allocation, distribution, use and development; and (ii) providing, in both the short and the long term, adequate water on a cost effective basis; and (iii) taking appropriate measures to minimise the impacts of droughts, floods or other hazards.

Zinwa has since its inception grappled to exercise its responsibilities to the best of its ability in very trying political and economic environment.

The year 2000 marked not only the turn of the century but also the inception of the country’s agrarian and land reforms, the beginning of an economic decline and lastly a decade of political upheaval.

Agrarian and Land Reforms

The land reforms increased the number of farm owners from the racial skewed 4 500 white commercial farmers to about 50 000 A2 farmers and over 150 000 A1 farmers resettled on over seven million hectares of land.

This development had its own challenges to the authority to discharge its core responsibility of (i) securing equitable accessibility and efficient allocation, distribution, use and development; and (ii) providing, in both the short and the long term, adequate water on a cost effective basis; Where in the past the authority was dealing with plus or minus 4 500 farmers now it had to service the over 200 000 combined new farmers.

This brought its own logistical problems in equitably and efficiently making sure that all farmers received a fair allocation of the precious resource.

All these new farmers had to be captured in the authority’s database for easier management of water resources in knowing who was where and how much water did they require and finally to bill them appropriately for water used.

Economic Decline

The decade 2000 to 2010 has witnessed an unprecedented economic decline in the world outside a war zone. Zimbabwean currency lost its value at a rate never experienced before against major currencies.

It fell from a modest Z$55: US$1 to an all-time law of Z$6trillion to the greenback in December 2008.

In other words planning became a nightmare as the ever-dwindling value of the currency fell short of replacing worn out equipment or start new projects.

Like the rest of the economy the authority could not implement many of its budgeted projects in the hyperinflationary economy that was made worse by European Union and United States economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Vandalism of Irrigation


A lot of irrigation facilities were vandalised on abandoned leaving new farmers to start from scratch to reinstall the vital equipment.

Today a lot of centre pivots are lying idle and not contributing to farm production because they were vandalised.

This in other words retarded the authority’s responsibility to provide, in both the short and the long term, adequate water on a cost-effective basis.

Non Payment of Water Tariffs

Zinwa is mandated by the Water Act to levy all water users a fee or levy so that it can carry out its responsibilities.

Section 30 of the Act reads (1) The Authority may, with the approval of the Minister and subject to the Water Act (Chapter 20:24), fix charges for

(a) the sale of raw or treated water from water works operated or controlled by the Authority; and (b) the disposal of waste water; and (c) the drilling of boreholes; and (d) the provision of consultancy services.

For among other things including movement of farmers into and out of farms as the landless were being resettled created challenges for the authority to keep an updated record of all water users.

The further deteriorating economic situation then meant it was very difficult to replace any vandalised, stolen or broken down water meters for accurate billing.

Most new farmers who were not updated in our books went for months or in some instances years without being billed for their irrigation water.

However, Zinwa takes the opportunity of relative finalisation of land resettlement programme and the return of economic stability in the country to urge all stakeholders to pay their water bills as required by the law.

Failure to pay for water used compromises the authority’s ability to continue delivering on its core mandate of securing equitable accessibility and efficient allocation, distribution, use and development of water resources in the country.

For the record the authority is owed a combined US$70 million by all water users in the country.

The recovery of only 50percent of this debt can go a long way in making the water authority meet its responsibilities that include developing and maintaining water sources, equitable accessibility, efficient allocation and distribution of water in the country.

This water column is published weekly by Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

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