EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY farmers at Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in Insiza South were shocked when Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) told them they owed the authority $260 000 in unpaid bills dating back to 2008.
Chief Sibasa revealed this last week saying Zinwa had been disconnecting water to the scheme before the heavy rains that pounded most parts of the country over the debt.
He said things were bad before the rains as a result of the water cuts, but they were now poised for a bumper harvest.
The irrigation scheme spans about 360 hectares and accommodates 853 farmers in its eight sections.
The farmers said Zinwa had informed them in October last year that they owed the water body $18 000 and Chief Sibasa said they do not understand how that could have skyrocketed to $260 000 in just four months.
“We believed the debt stood at around $100 000, but Zinwa shocked us when they said we now owed them $260 000. We asked how the amount got to that level and they told us that it was backdated to 2008 and the interest is what caused the debt to rise sharply,” he said.
Chief Sibasa said Zinwa officials had promised to slash the debt like Zesa and local authorities had done with what they were owed, but they had not heard if their request would be considered favourably.
“At the moment it is quite good that our crops are already at the maturity stage which means we will have a good harvest this year, but we are still not sure if we will be able to continue farming in winter because we fear Zinwa will disconnect us over the money they want,” he said.
Zinwa reportedly charges each farmer $25 per month for water usage.
The irrigation scheme is supplied with water from Silalatshani Dam which also supplies JZ Moyo High School, Colleen Bawn and Ekusileni Mission.
The dam is currently at 100% capacity.
Zinwa’s Umzingwane catchment area manager Tony Rosen was said to be in Gweru attending a meeting and would only be available for comment this week.
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