Zinwa catches Beitbridge Town flat-footed

Ellen Mlambo

Two Nations Reporter

BEITBRIDGE – Some 75% of Beitbridge residents are not paying their water bills and the local authority has resolved to disconnect defaulters at the rate of 100 houses a day, Town Clerk Loud Ramakgapola has said.

The disconnections began yesterday.

Ramakgapola said the water crisis in the town has been worsened by the activation of the prepaid water meters by Zinwa on January 1, 2022 which caught the local authority flat-footed.

The water crisis is now so bad that he feared the outbreak of communicable diseases. Most parts of the town are receiving water for 2 hours twice a week, said Ramakgapola.

Beitbridge is one of the worst towns in terms of water supply to residents with new suburbs unconnected despite the fact that the border town lies along Zimbabwe’s largest river, the Limpopo.

ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager Marjorie Munyonga said as at January 31, this year, Beitbridge Municipality owed ZINWA $294 million.

She disputed that they gave the local authority a short notice on the activation of prepaid water meters.

Munyonga also said that the charging of Value Added Tax (VAT) is a statutory requirement and ZINWA charges VAT on all water sold to individuals and entities who will use the water for purposes other than primary purposes.

“The charging of Value Added Tax (VAT) is a statutory requirement and ZINWA charges VAT on all water sold to individuals and entities who will use water for purposes other than primary purposes and these include local authorities that get water from ZINWA for resale to residents. VAT is not due to ZINWA but to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. ZINWA also pays VAT to local authorities where it also runs resale stations. The Municipality of Beitbridge can approach ZIMRA and seek exemption from paying VAT as the matter is beyond ZINWA,” she added.

Ramakgapola said when ZINWA effected the prepaid water meters, Beitbridge Town Council was not ready and the local authority did not have money on it to meet the bills.

He disagreed with Zinwa’s water billing system where he said the latter is charging VAT on water for domestic use and billing non-revenue water.

He bemoaned the arrangement where the local authority has to buy water from Zinwa and said that as long as this remained in place the border settlement’s water woes will remain.

In the meantime, the only remedy was for council to provide water to the residents who are paying for it and leave those who are not paying.

“We have a challenge of people who are 100 percent paid up and those who are not paying but benefiting from the little water that is there. Starting Wednesday, we will be on a massive disconnection spree and my target is that our guys disconnect 100 houses per day and they will not listen to any pleas,” he said. 

He bemoaned Zinwa’s short notice on the activation of the prepaid water meter and called on the water authority to suspend the arrangement.

 “Zinwa only informed us on December 24, 2021, that it was going to activate prepaid meters on January 1, 2022. That was too short a notice considering that we had to inform stakeholders who are on a post payment model. The local authority did not have such kind of money to pay Zinwa in advance without passing the bill to residents,” said Ramakgapola.

“The statutes stipulate that water supplied through a pipe for domestic use is exempted from paying VAT. An average of 75 percent of water in Beitbridge town is consumed for domestic purposes yet ZINWA is billing us,” he added. 

Munyonga however, said the notice came five months before the activation of prepaid water meters. 

“We wrote to the Municipality of Beitbridge in July 2021 advising them of the intention to reactivate the prepaid water meters. The meters were then installed in December, last year which constitute a total of five months’ notice which by any standards is sufficient. This communication was also shared with relevant parent Ministries,” said Munyonga.

She added that the charging of VAT is a statutory requirement and ZINWA charges VAT on all water sold to individuals and entities who will use the water for purposes other than primary purposes.

She said VAT is not due to ZINWA but the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the water authority also pays VAT to councils where it also runs resale stations.  https://masvingomirror.com

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