No Treasury bailout for Kwekwe

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Mthuli Ncube

PHILLIMON MHLANGA

Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube (pictured), this week revealed that there would be no rescue package for the City of Kwekwe to avert a water crisis in the short term due to serious complexities.

But the failure to benefit from the Treasury’s benevolence is likely to result in the worsening of the water crisis in Kwekwe, which will affect millions of people in the city.

Ncube told Business Times on the sidelines of a post-Cabinet media briefing: “The story is that Kwekwe is not covered [by this government funding] because there are complexities. There is Ziscosteel, which owes Kwekwe, but has collapsed. There is also Redcliff, which also owes Kwekwe. So, the three are interlinked. The issue is very complex. At the moment we don’t have the figures but once the exercise is complete, we will deal with Kwekwe.”

A fortnight ago, the government extended funding to the City of Harare after it shut down its main water treatment plant at Morton Jaffray, which supplies Harare and surrounding towns because the Council claimed to have run out of water treatment chemicals.

The Council was also faced with the problem of forex shortages to purchase chemicals.

Morton Jaffray was, however, re-opened after the government intervened with an emergency bailout, which is only enough to last for a few weeks.

The Council requires about US$3m a month. In total, the government has released more than US$100m to local authorities to fund water projects.

Apart from the critical shortages of water treatment chemicals, Zimbabwe is battling low water levels in the dams that supply water to cities, due to this year’s severe drought.

Government disbursed US$37m to the Harare City Council (HCC), while it. released US$72m to other local authorities.

Bulawayo got US$18.3m, Chitungwiza US$6.4m, Bindura US$5.6m, Gweru US$7m, Kadoma US$2.7m, Mutare US$8.9m, Chinhoyi US$4.8m, Shurugwi US$3.6m, Epworth US$3.8m, Mvurwi US$1.5, and Norton US$450 000.

 But Ncube said the cash will go directly to Chemplex, which will supply the chemicals to the councils.