…as council battles to restore public faith in municipal water
The commission of enquiry recently set-up by City of Masvingo following a water chemicals supply debacle is targeted at Bushmead Water Works superintendent Charles Chapanduka whom the city accuses of recently failing to timeously report that one chemical was fast running out.
Speaking at a press conference organised to try and discredit a recent TellZim story on how council pumped inadequately-treated water, Mayor Collen Maboke sought to exonerate city engineer Tawanda Gozo and pin all the blame on Chapanduka.
“Actually, it’s the station superintendent who can be accused of incompetence because he failed to report the issue on time. He is the one being investigated,” said Maboke.
He said a subordinate at the water works came and tipped council that there was only two days’ supply of aluminium sulphate left when normal procedure would have seen Chapanduka communicating directly with Gozo on the state of chemical supplies.
“Had it not been for that tip, it could have gone wrong. I discussed it with the town clerk and we went to Zinwa (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) and borrowed 15 tonnes of the chemical that we expect to bay back soon. There is an arrangement which allows Zinwa and the city to lend each other chemicals if there is need. There is nothing amiss about that,” said Maboke.
He said council awaited the results of a commission of enquiry which was recently instituted to investigate the alleged incompetence on the part of Chapanduka so that appropriate disciplinary procedure could be taken.
TellZim reported last week that on some occasions from the end of November 2019, council pumped inadequately-treated water after its stores ran out of aluminium sulphate, which is one of the key chemicals used in the water purification process.
The publication reported that the engineering department, which is headed by Gozo, and in which the water treatment plant falls, was taking the blame for incompetence within its senior ranks.
Maboke, however, said disciplinary action will be taken against Chapanduka if he is found to have failed to execute his duties as per expectations.
He however refused to categorically state as fact that council had managed to get the supplies from Zinwa before the two-day period had lapsed.
He instead chose to stick to his position that council had never pumped insufficiently-treated water to homes.
He said council position was that supplies would rather be stopped rather pump inadequately-treated or raw water.
“We are responsible city fathers whose actions can never endanger the lives of the residents of the City of Masvingo and let me make this commitment that we will never supply the residents with water that does not meet the minimum WHO and SAZ standards for drinking water.
“We are also going to further strengthen our water quality monitoring systems by introducing periodic monitoring visits to the water works by our policy makers,” said Maboke.
He also announced that council had since organised a media tour of the water works to ensure that journalists get a ‘clearer’ appreciation of the operations there.