ENVIRONMENT, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere faces arrest while three Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) officials, who include the chief executive officer (CEO) and his two subordinates, face prolonged incarceration for disconnecting water to Gwanda Town Council in disregard of a High Court order barring them from doing so without court authority.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Zinwa disconnected water to the Gwanda local authority two weeks ago over an unpaid debt of $5 million seriously starving the town of the precious liquid forcing residents to fetch water from unprotected sources such as the Mtshabezi River.
The non-availability of water also seriously exposed residents to disease outbreak as they were using nearby bushes to relieve themselves since they could not flash their toilets.
On August 26 2011 Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou barred Zinwa from disconnecting water to the local authority.
The order was given by consent of Zinwa and Gwanda Town Council after the local authority had approached the court when Zinwa indicated that it wanted to indefinitely disconnect water to the town.
It was then agreed that council would remit 70% of its collection of monthly water bills to Zinwa, but in the event of a breach of the agreement, the parties would approach the High Court for recourse.
However, it was not disputed that the local authority defaulted remitting money to Zinwa after the agreement, which prompted Zinwa to disconnect water on November 7, albeit without a court order as was ordered by Justice Ndou.
The Gwanda Town Council went to court on Thursday seeking a contempt of court order against Kasukuwere as the minister responsible and Zinwa officials.
Zinwa and its CEO, the Umzingwane Catchment area manager Tonny Rosen, Umzingwane Water Supplies manager Stanley Nazombe and Kasukuwere are cited as respondents.
The order being sought reads: “The second (Zinwa) and fifth (Kasukuwere) respondents are in contempt of (a) court order granted by (the) High Court issued undercover of case number HC2333/11 of the 26th of August 2011.
“First (Zinwa CEO), third (Rosen) and fourth (Nazombe) respondents are in contempt of court for failing to reconnect applicant’s water supply.
“The first, third and fourth respondents be kept in custody until such a time that first, second, third and (EFZ) fourth respondents comply with the court order issued under HC23331/11 by this honourable court. Second respondent, be and hereby ordered to pay a fine of $1 000 for each day that they fail to reconnect water supply to the applicant from the date of granting this order to the day that second respondent reconnects water supply to applicant.”
In his founding affidavit filed by lawyers, Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, Gwanda town clerk Gilbert Mlilo said Zinwa disconnects water at 4pm until 8am the following day leaving the town with a shortfall of 7 600 cubic metres against a daily consumption of 10 000 cubic metres.
The situation, Mlilo said, has left the whole of Gwanda virtually without water, with the Gwanda Provincial Hospital being the worst affected.
Normal water supplies were only restored to Gwanda last Friday after Transport minister Obert Mpofu paid $46 000 to Zinwa on behalf of council.
Zinwa had indicated that it would only restore supplies if council paid $46 000 towards servicing its debt of $5 million.
Council then resolved to sell a commercial stand worth $90 000 to Mpofu and the $46 000 he directly paid into the Zinwa account is the deposit for the stand.