Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, has said drilling a borehole requires a permit from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
His statement comes after some residents in Bulawayo were protesting against the Upper Gwayi Sub Catchment for enforcing the payment of levies for the use of underground water.
Dr Masuka emphasised that groundwater use is governed by the Water Act and that the Sub-Catchment Council is responsible for accessing and allocating water efficiently.
He urged individuals to obtain drilling permits and ensure compliance with the law. In a statement seen by ZiMetro News, Masuka said:
STATEMENT ON BOREHOLE DRILLING AND GROUNDWATER ABSTRACTIONS
The Ministry has noted the recent increase in the number of individuals and organisations drilling boreholes without the relevant permits in the country; with some of these boreholes being drilled within metres of one another.
The Ministry wishes to remind borehole owners, drillers and prospective borehole owners that groundwater use, just like surface water use, is governed by the Water Act (Chapter 20 24) Section 3 of the Water Act vests all water in the President while Section 4 of the same Act prohibits private ownership of water.
With water being a finite resource, its development and use should be managed in a sustainable manner. Government, through ZINWA and Sub-Catchment Councils, is responsible for assessing and allocating water efficiently, sustainably and equitably, in view of competing water needs by multiple users.
In this regard, any individual or organisation intending to drill a borehole should apply for and obtain a drilling permit from their respective Catchment Council This allows Government to know the number and location of the boreholes, so as to avoid over abstraction of the groundwater resource The driller is required, by law, to provide the technical details on the drilling of such a borehole (i.e. the construction, the pumping tests and water yield and any other parameters).
It is also a legal requirement that a holder of a groundwater permit keeps records of the water abstracted in terms of the permit and have such water analysed for physical, chemical and biological and other bacteriological constituents and to ensure that the water is safe and clean for human consumption.
All individuals, institutions and organisations who may have drilled boreholes without the requisite documentation are, therefore, advised to approach ZINWA or their respective Catchment Councils to regularise their water use. The Ministry advises all water users to always ensure that their water use is in compliance with the law.
Some government critics are sceptical that the requirement for drilling permits is intended to prevent the opposition from gaining support through the drilling of boreholes.
Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent critic, believes that the regime will attempt to block these efforts, but the opposition can use these denials to expose the government’s disregard for the people’s needs.
He urges the opposition to demonstrate their ability to lead and provide solutions, and to use the government’s obstruction as campaign material.