Kwekwe Municipal Council has been dragged to court for discharging raw sewage into Sebakwe, one of the largest rivers in the Midlands Province and a source of water for two major towns. The local authority is being charged for pollution in a case that came before the courts last month.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) District Officer, Daniel Magombedze told The Mirror in an interview that his organization was forced to take the local authority to court after persistent fines and warnings for the discharges that continued since 2019. He said the matter becomes dire considering the cholera epidemic that has hit Zimbabwe.

Magombedze said tests have shown that the water from Sebakwe, a river that supplies Kwekwe and Redcliff is contaminated with raw sewage although, Kwekwe Town clerk Lucia Mkandla insisted that the water is safe for human consumption after purification.

Also worrying, said Magombedze is that farmers who grow flowers and soya beans for export have been forced to stop after it was realized that the irrigation water they use is contaminated. The source established that more than 30 000 and 20 000 tonnes of beans and flowers respectively have been affected by the disruptions.

People living downstream of Sebakwe Dam are also consuming contaminated water, said Magombedze.

“Farmers who are into flowers, soya beans and other export crops have been forced to stop as tests conducted indicated that the water they have been using is contaminated,” he said.

Mkandla confirmed the situation and said the City works are afflicted by illegal gold miners who vandalise pipes and sewerage equipment.

“We went for some time without a proper pumping system after it was vandalised by illegal miners. The illegal miners are also targeting water pipes which they break to access water for use in their mining activities,” she said.

She added that the sewer is also blocked by the miners using soil and other material.

“Recently, we issued tickets against Kwekwe City Council and the issue is before the courts. Raw sewer is flowing into Sebakwe river and our samples have proven that the water is contaminated. We resorted to the courts as this situation has not been remedied since 2019. We are left with no option especially during this time when a cholera outbreak has been declared,” said Magombedze.