Comment: Misrule In The Time Of Cholera

THERE is no official tally of innocent lives which have been lost to the cholera outbreak in Harare and smaller urban settlements because our rulers are still in denial.


They believe that masking the statistics of deaths is a way to dilute the level of degeneracy within their ranks and the state’s blameworthiness.

Reports have been reaching us daily from Glen View, Budiriro, Glen Norah and Kuwadzana that people are dying and the situation is deteriorating fast. Raw sewerage has formed rivulets of death in the suburbs and taps have remained dry. Desperate residents have resorted to digging shallow wells in soils contaminated with deadly bacteria from the effluent. Water from these shallow wells is a cocktail which delivers death.
Funeral wakes for the deceased are spread across the high density areas which have been hard hit. The residents are dying daily as a direct result of failure by the state institution Zinwa to supply potable water to the city. The cholera outbreak is today the most apt illustration of the collapse of the Zanu PF administration fronted in this latest scene of shame by Zinwa and Water Resources minister Munacho Mutezo.
It will be hard for the crocodiles in Zanu PF to apportion the blame for the dry taps, sewerage systems working in reverse and broken water pipes in major urban centres to the usual punch bags, the opposition and the West.
The Zanu PF government is culpable here. It grabbed water and sewerage management, together with assets, from local authorities two years ago on the pretext that it would manage water resources more equitably and efficiently. But as has become evident, the move was a ploy to cripple local governments which had fallen to the opposition as urban dwellers rejected Zanu PF’s misrule.
At the height of the annexations Zinwa — with the excitement of a child with a new toy — announced its acquisition of water infrastructure and the role to supply clean water in towns, cities and rural service centres. In essence Zinwa never really improved services. It superintended the running down of infrastructure and displayed arrogant contempt when residents demanded a better service. In smaller towns broken down water treatment plants have become monuments to this failed regime.
Zinwa’s taking over the supply of bulk in urban areas was therefore a bonehead political ruse which had nothing to do with efficiency. So when the authority denies culpability, it is merely blaming those who dropped the huge responsibility on its weak shoulders, the Zanu PF government.
Bad policies have become the hallmark of President Mugabe and his cohorts. What is evident from this crisis is that the Zanu PF government never learnt to plan and formulate any workable policies in anticipation of growing urban populations. It toyed with plans to build a canal to Chitungwiza instead of developing the Kunzvi Dam project in Harare and the Matabeleland Zambezi Water scheme. Fancifulness is a major driver of this government.
Zimbabweans today have been made to endure arrogant incompetence by public officials appointed to office largely by their ability to praise-sing overbearing demi-gods than their ability to deliver.
When confronted with evidence of their failure the ruling elite and their agencies switch to denial mode. From Zinwa we have heard that water problems are due to Zesa’s failure to provide power. The authority has said it does not have funds to acquire chemicals. It has said it is encountering transport problems to move chemicals to water treatment plants. Zinwa officials and Mutezo have over the years sharpened their competence in explaining the problems to us and not proffering solutions.
 Urban residents who have been left high, dry and in the dark want to know when they will get water or when sewerage will stop flowing into their kitchens. They know the causes of their plight, poor politics. That is why they rejected Zanu PF at the polls.
We are now all aware that Zanu PF’s politics is turning us into a sick nation where curable diseases have become fatal scourges of epidemic proportions— misrule in the time of cholera. The party, even in the proposed unitary government can no longer be trusted to deliver for the nation. Everything the wretched hand of Zanu PF touches is cursed. The Reserve Bank — and not for the first time — has provided funds and equipment to Zinwa to rescue the situation but there are no apparent improvements. People are still dying of cholera and more than 60% of the capital and most major urban centres are without water. For any ruling order to claim legitimacy when it cannot provide basics like water and electricity is a big fuss. It cannot do basic plumbing! Can Mutezo wake up and smell the…sewerage.

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