Disgruntled villagers told The Zimbabwean that the water utility was a stumbling block to the development of irrigation schemes in the area.
They said it defied logic for Zinwa to levy them for flowing water, which they harvesting using their own equipment. They said the water, if not utilised, would just flow into Mozambique.
“We have sacrificed our resources to buy pumps to draw water from the Mountains. But we are surprised that Zinwa is penalising us. We are poor and we can`t pay for the water. Water is a natural resource that we should use to empower ourselves,” said Clever Sakupwanya, a small-scale farmer from Gaerezi.
Farmers called on government to intervene to save the situation, saying the levy fee should be scrapped to allow farmers to recover from the economic meltdown.
“Foreign currency is scarce this side and where do these people expect us to get the money to pay for free water? It’s unheard of in this world. They are not offering us any service so why should we pay?” said another villager.
Other farmers said Zinwa’s water pricing system had become a threat to sustainable agricultural productivity for both small-scale and commercial irrigation farming communities.
Zinwa, which is mandated by the government to distribute raw water to irrigation farms, has recently come under scrutiny regarding how it charges for the resource.
Farmers argue that the authority’s system is negatively impacting on agricultural production with most complaining the resource is way too expensive.
Nyanga South legislator Supa Mandiwanzira, who is also Deputy Information minister, last week said it did not make sense for Zinwa to levy small scale farmers who would have dug deep into their own pockets to raise funds to procure water pumps to improve their farming activities.
“Zinwa should not levy small-scale farmers who would have pulled their resources to buy equipment to harvest water from the mountains to irrigate their crops,” Mandiwanzira said.
“That should be an incentive to encourage farmers to venture into irrigation projects to boost food security. The water could have been let to flow into Mozambique but locals are utilising it to their own advantage.”
Water for free
The deputy minister said the water utility should only levy for water in dams. He promised to take the matter up with the relevant authorities.
Joseph Chinotimba, the Buhera South Member of Parliament (MP) last week queried why Zinwa was charging for water that it gets from the Zambezi River’s catchment area for free.
Contributing to debate on government’s policy on agricultural financing, Chinotimba said Zinwa had no right to charge for water it obtained from a shared river basin.
“Let us take an example of the water in the Zambezi River that originates from DRC,” Chinotimba said.
“Zinwa expects us to pay for water that is coming from DRC and yet it is not their water. We do not pay a single cent to DRC, where the water is coming from,” he said.
“We are not saying that we should not pay, but we are saying charges should be minimal,” he said. Most irrigation schemes in Manicaland province are lying idle as Zinwa has either disconnected supplies or levied exorbitant charges in situations where the farmers draw water straight from rivers or boreholes.Post published in: Agriculture