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Power, water woes: buck stops at govt’s door


ZIMBABWE is engulfed in electricity and water shortages of unprecedented proportions. Fuel is also critically short. Providers of services, domestic power and water supplies unilaterally cut them off for hours or days withou

t explanation.


Below are some of the outages’ serious repercussions:


* Unavailability of electricity reduces the production of goods and provision of services. Production targets for domestic consumption and exports are not met resulting in shortages of goods and foreign currency;


* Households lose perishable commodities such as meat, milk, butter, etc. Their electrical equipment is damaged due to frequent surges. Imagine the impact of outages on cooking
and water heating for bathing in winter. Increased use of firewood affects the environment. Paraffin is in short supply and/or expensive;


* Government departments now provide services for only a few hours a day, either because there is no electricity or water or both;


* Lack of water in households threatens occupants’ health. Imagine using toilets in a home without running water. Leaving for work or business without bathing or washing clothes appears difficult to imagine. But this is happening in Zimbabwe;


* School heads are forced to send children back home due to lack of either electricity or water or both. Will the teachers catch up with their syllabuses?


* Some businesses close for the day because there is no water for toilets, drinking or production;


* Without electricity, local authorities fail to pump water into reservoirs for residential and industrial consumption. Shortage of water can also affect the generation of electricity;


* Essential services such as hospitals have to depend on power generators to maintain health services. Some patients have died due to power outages as hospital authorities have to suspend services when water supplies are cut;


* Entertainment is also affected. Zimbabweans were frustrated during the World Cup games in Germany when there were major power blackouts;


* The entire economy is groaning due to the critical shortage of fuel. In addition, the price of available fuel, at between $400 000 and $500 000 a litre, is beyond the reach of most motorists. Commuters now pay between $80 000 and $100 000 per trip;


* There are two prices for fuel. Commuter omnibus operators pay just less than $23 000 per litre while the rest of the motorists pay between $400 000 and $500 000 a litre. The two-tier pricing system encourages corruption and punishes political opponents; and


* Commuters now report for work late due to the reduced number of buses. The reduction results from the critical shortage of fuel. Going back home after work is a nightmare.


Who is responsible for this state of affairs?


Although Zesa and Harare City Council for instance have brought the nation and Harare residents to their knees because of their incompetence, government has defended the managers of these institutions.


Sydney Gata (Zesa) and Sekesai Makwavarara (Harare) have presided over the demise of their respective institutions. This is a microcosm of what is happening in the whole country.


Therefore the buck stops at the government’s doorstep. It is the executive’s duty to ensure that the nation has electricity, water, fuel, food and other essential goods and services, or creates a conducive environment that will enable business to produce goods and provide services in abundance and at competitive prices.


The present national leaders have dismally failed to shoulder their responsibility. They have demonstrated unparalleled incompetence which is riddled with corruption. Nonetheless, they do not concede failure, which is a crucial step in resolving a crisis. Instead, they blame someone else for their failure. They will obviously prescribe the wrong medicine for the disease.


If government conceded failure, it would solicit solutions from the people. Listening to the electorate distinguishes a genuine leader from a dictator. In a democracy, political parties which listen to the electorate perform better and remain in power longer. But in a dictatorship, leaders stay in office through intimidation, threats, repression, and brute force.


Those who have ears please listen: the present state of affairs is definitely unsustainable. Employing the former spin doctor’s strategy of defending the indefensible will not help the situation.


The Zimbabwe Liberators Platform calls for an urgent and comprehensive resolution of the national crisis. This includes a national, all-stakeholders conference to hammer out a negotiated settlement, repeal of such draconian legislation as Posa, Aippa, and BSA, and the establishment of a transitional authority to prepare for, and conduct internationally-supervised, free and fair elections under a new democratic constitution.



Zimbabwe Liberators Platform,


Harare.

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