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OPINION - Confusing Cause and Effect


Incorporating

Founder : Len Abrams
Water Policy International

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Full electronic versions of these Bills are available in Word format in a zip file containing the following items:

Press Statement
Water Bill
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) Bill

Please email Stefan Helming at gtz-rws@harare.iafrica.com to request the files.


The Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development,

Hon Joice Mujuru

PRESS CONFERENCE AT VALLEY DAM

ON THE 17TH NOVEMBER 1997 :

WATER BILL AND ZINWA BILL

HONOURABLE GOVERNOR AND RESIDENT MINISTER FOR MATABELELAND SOUTH

HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

INVITED GUESTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

MAY I TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE TWO BILLS WHICH I INTEND TO INTRODUCE TO PARLIAMENT IN DUE COURSE.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF RURAL RESOURCES AND WATER DEVELOPMENT AND ITS PREDECESSOR MINISTRIES EMBARKED ON A COMPREHENSIVE WATER SECTOR REFORM PROGRAMME WHICH INCLUDES AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE DEVELOPMENT OF WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, THE CREATION OF THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY (ZINWA) AND THE REPEAL OF THE WATER ACT OF 1976. GOVERNMENT RECOGNISES THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER TO DEVELOPMENT AND AIMS TO REDUCE CONFLICT OVER WATER UTILISATION.

2.0 WATER DRAFT BILL, 1997

LET ME FIRST HIGHLIGHT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WATER ACT AND THE REASONS WHICH NECESSITATED ITS REPEAL; LEGISLATION ON THE MANAGEMENT AND USE OF WATER RESOURCES IN ZIMBABWE FIRST CAME INTO BEING IN 1927. THE WATER ACT OF 1927 WAS THEN REPEALED AND REPLACED BY THE WATER ACT CHAPTER 20:22 (No. 41 OF 1976).

MANY OF THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE WATER ACT OF 1976 HAVE EXPRESSED THE VIEW THAT THE ACT IS SUFFICIENTLY FLEXIBLE AND COMPREHENSIVE TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF ALL ZIMBABWEANS IF PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED.

HOWEVER FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, PARTICULARLY AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND WITH THE FREQUENCY OF DROUGHTS, MANY EXPERTS AND ORDINARY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CALLING FOR A COMPLETE REVISION OF THE WATER ACT BECAUSE IT IS FAILING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY.

THE ALLOCATION OF WATER RIGHTS UNDER THE WATER ACT OF 1976 IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF "FIRST COME FIRST SERVED". THE WATER RIGHTS ARE ISSUED IN PERPETUITY AS LONG AS THEY ARE BEING BENEFICIALLY USED. THIS OBVIOUSLY PROVIDED AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE TO THOSE WATER RIGHT HOLDERS WHO WERE IN A POSITION TO ESTABLISH THE FIRST CLAIM AND, IN SOME WATER SHORTAGE AREAS TO EFFECTIVELY PREVENT NEWCOMERS FROM OBTAINING A SHARE OF THE RESOURCE. THE SKEWED DISTRIBUTION OF LAND, CARRIED WITH IT THE SKEWED DISTRIBUTION OF WATER AS MOST COMMUNAL PEOPLE ARE SETTLED IN THE DRIER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

FROM THE FOREGOING IT IS, THEREFORE NOT SURPRISING THAT THIS MINISTRY AND ITS PREDECESSORS ARE AND HAVE BEEN RECEIVING NUMEROUS QUERIES REGARDING WATER RIGHTS AND ACCESSIBILITY OF WATER FOR MAINLY AGRICULTURAL USE.

IT IS AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND THAT THE PREDECESSOR TO MY MINISTRY SET UP AN INTER-MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE WHICH ALSO INCLUDED MEMBERS FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR (FARMERS AND INDUSTRIALISTS) TO REVIEW THE WATER ACT, CONSULT WITH THE PUBLIC AND TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE NECESSARY CHANGES.

THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS WERE PRESENTED TO MY PREDECESSOR IN 1994 AND WERE TRANSLATED INTO PRINCIPLES WHICH WERE PRESENTED TO THE CABINET COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATION AND APPROVED ON THE 4TH JANUARY 1995.

MAY I POINT OUT THAT MORE OF THESE PRINCIPLES ARE COMMON SENSE AND SOME CALL FOR A BREAK WITH THE PAST AND COULD HAVE FAR REACHING IMPLICATIONS. BY CHANGING THE WATER ACT, ONE IS TOUCHING ONE OF THE SOURCES OF POWER AND WEALTH IN THE COUNTRY BUT FROM AN ECONOMICAL, TECHNICAL, SOCIAL AND MORAL POINT OF VIEW, THIS HAD TO BE DONE.

I WILL BRIEFLY RUN DOWN THE MAIN PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THE NEW WATER ACT HAS BEEN DEVELOPED UPON:-

* OWNERSHIP OF ALL SURFACE AND GROUND WATER IS VESTED IN THE STATE. EXCEPT FOR PRIMARY PURPOSES, ANY EXPLOITATION OF WATER RESOURCES REQUIRES SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FROM THE STATE. THAT AUTHORITY SHOULD BE GIVEN FOR A GIVEN SPECIFIC ECONOMIC PERIOD.

* STAKEHOLDERS SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN ALL IMPORTANT DECISION-MAKING AND MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES.

* WATER RESOURCES SHOULD BE MANAGED ON A CATCHMENT BASIS AS RIVERS DEFY PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT BOUNDARIES;

* DEVELOPMENT OF WATER RESOURCES SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED ON AN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE BASIS;

* THE RACIALLY SKEWED ALLOCATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF WATER MUST BE REDRESSED AND THE ACCESS TO WATER BY ALL ZIMBABWEANS IMPROVED;

* WATER PRICES SHOULD BE BASED ON THE USER PAYS AND POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE AND BE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE TO THE DIFFERENT INTEREST GROUPS IN THE WATER SECTOR.

* THAT WATER HAS AN ECONOMIC VALUE IN ALL ITS COMPETING USES AND SHOULD BE RECOGNISED AS AN ECONOMIC GOOD. MANAGING WATER AS AN ECONOMIC GOOD IS AN IMPORTANT WAY OF ACHIEVING EFFICIENT AND EQUITABLE USE, AND OF ENCOURAGING CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF WATER RESOURCES. AN IMPORTANT COROLLARY IS THAT WATER AUTHORITIES SHOULD BE TREATED AS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES.

I NOW PRESENT THE SALIENT FEATURES OF THE BILL:-

THIS BILL, WHICH REPEALS AND REPLACES THE WATER ACT [CHAPTER 20:22], INTRODUCES A NUMBER OF NEW FEATURES IN THE MANAGEMENT AND USE OF THE WATER RESOURCES OF ZIMBABWE. THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES INCLUDE :-

* THE VESTING OF ALL WATER IN THE PRESIDENT, THUS REMOVING THE CONCEPT OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF WATER;

* REMOVING THE CONCEPT OF WATER RIGHTS BEING REAL RIGHTS ISSUED IN PERPETUITY AND ATTACHING TO THE LAND IN RESPECT OF WHICH THEY ARE GRANTED AND IN PLACE OF THIS WILL BE INTRODUCED A PERMIT SYSTEM UNDER WHICH PERMITS FOR THE USE OF WATER WILL BE VALID FOR A SPECIFIED PERIOD OF TIME AND WILL BE SUBJECT TO REVIEW AS CIRCUMSTANCES MAY DEMAND;

* THE REMOVAL OF MUCH OF THE DIFFERENTIATION IN APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF WATER BETWEEN SURFACE WATER AND GROUND WATER;

 * THE REMOVAL OF THE PREFERENTIAL RIGHTS TO WATER CURRENTLY HELD BY RIPARIAN OWNERS;

* THE CONFERRING ON CATCHMENT COUNCILS SET UP TO MANAGE THE USE OF WATER IN THE CATCHMENT AREAS UNDER THEIR JURISDICTION, THE POWER TO ISSUE THE PERMITS REQUIRED FOR CERTAIN USES OF WATER THUS DECENTRALIZING AND REMOVING THIS FUNCTION FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT TO WHICH APPEALS WILL NOW BE MADE IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES;

* ENSURING THAT CATCHMENT COUNCILS SET UP TO MANAGE RIVER SYSTEMS IN THEIR CATCHMENT AREAS ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL WATER USERS IN THE AREA CONCERNED, THE INTENTION BEING THAT PEOPLE IN COMMUNAL AND RESETTLEMENT AREAS BE INVOLVED IN WATER MANAGEMENT;

* INTRODUCING THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY ESTABLISHED BY THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY ACT, 1997, AS A TOOL OF GOVERNMENT IN PERFORMING CERTAIN FUNCTIONS HITHERTO THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SECRETARY THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER DEVELOPMENT; AND REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY.

* AND, EXTENDING BEYOND IRRIGATION TO OTHER COMMERCIAL PURPOSES, THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH COMBINED WATER SCHEMES MAY BE ESTABLISHED.

THE BILL ALSO INTRODUCES FEES FOR APPLICATIONS FOR PERMITS TO USE WATER AND FOR THE COMMERCIAL USE OF WATER, THE MONEYS WILL BE USED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF WATER RESOURCES. THERE WILL ALSO BE CHARGES FOR THE PERMISSION TO DISCHARGE ANY EFFLUENT INTO STREAMS OF WATER BODIES AND THE REVENUE WILL BE CHANNELLED INTO MATTERS RELATING TO WATER QUALITY CONTROL. ECONOMIC PENALTIES WILL BE INTRODUCED IN RESPECT OF CONTRAVENTION OF THE ACT AND WHERE AN ORDER PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM DOING SOMETHING HAS BEEN MADE, THE ORDER WILL STAND DESPITE THE FACT THAT AN APPEAL MAY HAVE BEEN NOTED AGAINST THE ORDER.

3. THE PROPOSED ZINWA BILL 1997

3.1 BACKGROUND

A GREAT DEAL OF INEFFICIENCY RESULTS WHEN GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES OR DEPARTMENTS TRY TO PLAY ALL THE ROLES, FROM POLICY-MAKING TO OPERATIONS. GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES OFTEN MAKE THE MISTAKE OF CONTROLLING DAY-TO-DAY MANAGEMENT OF WATER AND SEWAGE SERVICES RATHER THAN CONCENTRATING ON RESULTS. IN FACT GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY RESULTS WHEN GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES FOCUS ON POLICY MAKING, ESTABLISHING REGULATORY REGIMES THAT PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR ACHIEVING GOALS AND SANCTIONS FOR SERIOUS FAILURES, AND GIVING ENTITIES THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTMENT AND OPERATIONS ENOUGH AUTONOMY TO CONTROL OUTCOMES. IN THE CASE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER DEVELOPMENT, IN SPITE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE WATER ACT, MORE ATTENTION WAS GIVEN TO THE PROVISION OF WATER SUPPLIES WITH LITTLE EFFORT BEING DIRECTED TO PLANNING AND POLICY-MAKING.

WITH SUCH A BACKGROUND, GOVERNMENT DECIDED IN MAY 1994 TO FORM THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY WHICH AMALGAMATES THE FUNCTIONS OF REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY AND THOSE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES AND TO OPERATE ON COMMERCIAL LINES.

THE PROPOSAL FOR THE FORMATION OF ZINWA IS IN LINE WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF THE ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMME (ESAP), TO STREAMLINE CIVIL SERVICE OPERATIONS AND PROMOTE ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY.

ZINWA WILL PRIMARILY BE A WATER MANAGEMENT AND BULK RAW WATER SUPPLYING PARASTATAL. ZINWA WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH THE CATCHMENT AND SUB-CATCHMENT COUNCILS INVOLVING A VERY HIGH DEGREE OF STAKEHOLDER PARTICIPATION, WHOSE FUNCTIONS WILL INCLUDE AMONG OTHER THINGS, ASSISTING IN CATCHMENT PLANNING, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND WATER ALLOCATION.

THERE WILL ALSO BE A COMMERCIALISED ENGINEERING SERVICES SECTION IN ZINWA.

THE PROVISION OF ENGINEERING SERVICES AND WATER MANAGEMENT (ESTIMATED TO ACCOUNT FOR 80% OF DWD OPERATIONS) WITHIN A PUBLIC SECTOR ENVIRONMENT LEADS TO INEFFICIENCIES. THERE ARE NO CLEAR PERFORMANCE TARGETS, MANAGEMENT IS BY CRISIS AND DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES ARE LENGTHY. IT WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS, THEREFORE, FOR THESE OPERATIONS TO BE CARRIED OUT WITHIN A COMMERCIAL ENVIRONMENT.

MORE AND MORE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD IT IS BECOMING EVIDENT THAT PROVISION OF WATER AS OPPOSED TO THE PLANNING OF THE WATER RESOURCES SHOULD BE ON COMMERCIAL LINES.

INDEED OUR NEIGHBOURS ARE CURRENTLY INVOLVED WITH CHANGING THE STATUS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE WATER DEPARTMENTS TO COMMERCIAL VENTURES. BOTSWANA, MALAWI, NAMIBIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND ZAMBIA HAVE EITHER COMMERCIALISED OR ARE CURRENTLY IN THE PROCESS OF COMMERCIALISATION.

3.2 THE BILL

THIS BILL ESTABLISHES THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY, A STATUTORY CORPORATION WHICH WILL BE CHARGED WITH THE OPERATIONS ASPECTS OF WHAT HAS HITHERTO CONSTITUTED PART OF THE WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY. WITH THE PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY, THE DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF THE NATIONAL WATER RESOURCES WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHORITY WHILST THE POLICY MAKING AND REGULATORY FUNCTIONS WILL REMAIN THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER DEVELOPMENT. THE AUTHORITY WILL OPERATE ON A COMMERCIAL BASIS EXCEPT IN RESPECT OF CERTAIN NON-COMMERCIAL FUNCTIONS FOR WHICH LEVIES WILL BE RAISED FROM PERMIT HOLDERS.

4. CONCLUSIONS

THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS WORKSHOPS, SEMINARS WERE THE CHANGES TO THE WATER ACT AND THE CREATION OF ZINWA HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED. THE VARIOUS OPTIONS OF PRICING WATER HAVE ALSO BEEN DISCUSSED. MANY, AMONG THE PUBLIC WILL CALL FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS SOMETIMES NOT TO SEEK CLARIFICATION BUT TO BUY TIME IN ORDER TO DELAY THE CHANGES. THERE IS A SCRAMBLE FOR DEVELOPING WATER RESOURCES AND THE EARLIER THE BILLS ARE DISCUSSED IN PARLIAMENT THE SOONER WE CAN REDUCE THE CONFLICT OVER WATER.

BY CHANGING THE WATER ACT AND BY CREATING THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY, GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING THREE E'S.

EQUITY I.E.

*ACCESS TO WATER FOR ALL,

*NO WATER RIGHTS IN PERPETUITY,

*NO PRIVATE WATER,

*ALL WATER USERS JOINTLY MANAGE THEIR WATER IN DECENTRALISED CATCHMENT COUNCILS,

*LIFELINE TARIFFS.

ENVIRONMENT I.E.

*POLLUTERS PAY FOR DISCHARGE PERMITS,

*DROUGHT PREPAREDNESS AND CONTROL OF SILTATION.

EFFICIENCY, I.E.

*COMMERCIALISE ENGINEERING SERVICES OF ZINWA

*FINANCE WATER MANAGEMENT FROM WATER LEVIES

*USERS PAY FOR WATER

*DEMAND MANAGEMENT : REDUCE WATER LOSSES;

*ENCOURAGE WATER SAVING TECHNOLOGIES AND CROPS.

LASTLY LET ME REMIND ALL ZIMBABWEANS THAT WE ALL USE WATER IN OUR EVERY DAY ACTIVITIES. TO SOME, IT IS A PRECIOUS COMMODITY TO BE USED SPARINGLY WITH RESPECT. OTHERS SQUANDER IT. BUT WE ALL DEPEND ON IT FOR IT IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE.

THE DRAFT BILLS ARE NOW READY FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION AND WILL BE ISSUED BY THE PERMANENT SECRETARY AS FROM MONDAY THE 10TH OF NOVEMBER 1997. PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS TO THE MINISTRY VIA YOUR RESPECTIVE ORGANISATIONS.

THANK YOU.


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