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Govt must prioritize foreign currency allocation to local authorities: Chamisa

Business Reporter

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says foreign currency allocation to local authorities for the purchase of water treatment chemicals must be a top priority for the government as the delay in availing the money will affect the dispensing of quality water to the residences.

This comes as the Harare City Council (HCC) has been appealing to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, to release foreign currency, in time to companies that import water treatment chemicals from South Africa and China.

Previously, the city started instituting a strict water rationing regime resulting in residents receiving water at least twice a week.

Briefing the media in the capital, Chamisa said the acute shortages of foreign currency is affecting the smooth running of water treatment operations. The party controls 81% of the local authorities in the southern African nation.

“It would not be adequate by omit the issue of water situation in Harare, you know, we have a very serious situation almost a catastrophe disaster. I understand that from the briefing I got from the Harare Mayor (Herbert Gomba) this morning, they have only received $150 000 when in fact there are supposed to be getting $2.8 million from the foreign currency that they are supposed to then get,” he said.

Harare requires about US$3 million every month for the purchase of water purification chemicals. HCC uses chlorine as a disinfection to kill bacteria in the water, activated carbon for removing odours, alum sulphate, sodium silicate for removing solid particles, lime for pH regulation, sulphuric acid to reduce pH, HTH for removing algae and ammonia for chlorine retention in the reticulation system.

“Again what compouse the problems of our local authorities is that, in terms of procurement there are certain bottlenecks, in terms of their ability to raise resources, everything is centralized within the central government which makes it difficult for them to even get the flexibility to raise the necessary resources that are required for us to be able to ameliorate the situation.”

He said foreign currency allocation to the local authorities should be a top priority to improve the quality of water to residents not just in Harare but to all the cities and small towns.

“…Otherwise they will be serious disaster in the city where people are then given water that is not treated, we need chemicals that are supposed to then sort out the water not just for Harare but for all the other cities and towns across the whole country,” Chamisa said.

Since 2008, Harare has been battling intermittent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid that has killed thousands in the past decade alone.At a full council meeting held this year, the city revealed that it is pumping 300 megalitres (ML) of water daily against 620ML they were pumping last year. However, hopes that with the works underway at Morton Jaffray and the commissioning of Avondale pump station – will be able to have returned water production to over 500ML by end of April.

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