UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe (UZ) authorities have launched a blistering attack on the Harare City Council and the recently-ended coalition government for the water problems afflicting the tertiary institution.
In a letter to the Zimbabwe Independent responding to last week’s story on the decline of standards at the institution, UZ director of information, protocol and public relations, Dennis Rwafa, said the City of Harare reneged on an agreement with government to construct a dedicated water pipeline to supply water directly from Avondale.
“The responsible authority, City of Harare, has totally failed to supply the university with adequate water since the inception of the ill-fated inclusive government (aka Government of National Unity),” he said.
Rwafa accused the city council of duplicity and “playing politics with the lives of so many people” after it reneged on the agreement with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and the UZ to construct the water pipeline.
“The pipeline was, nevertheless, constructed after UZ purchased the required materials for US$100 000, but still no water is being pumped into UZ reservoirs,” he said, adding that “well-wishers such as Unicef intervened by sinking a number of boreholes on campus, most of which are dedicated to student halls of residence, but with negligible water output”.
“In fact, the university was duped by the City of Harare into constructing two water reservoirs each with a capacity of 2,5 megalitres. Ideally, those two storage tanks can hold up to five million litres when pumped to full capacity,” said Rwafa.
He also attacked the Independent, claiming the story it carried last week contained “a litany of half-truths, gross exaggerations and even blatant lies thus painting a gloomy picture of an otherwise vibrant and admired centre of academic excellence”.
A visit to the institution by the paper last week revealed signs of increasing infrastructural decay and poor living conditions for students. The dilapidated 56-year-old infrastructure continues to crumble with students at the tertiary institution facing worsening water woes.
The halls of residence are an eyesore and the once lush, green lawns on the university grounds have given way to a desert-like barrenness resembling over-grazed communal pastures as the water crisis continues to bite.
There is a now-familiar sight of queues as students wait patiently to get water from the few boreholes dotted around the halls of residence. Rwafa said there is a project to harvest underground water which is expected to ameliorate the crisis by November 15.
“Imagine a university with 4 300 students living in residence, over 8 000 who stay out of residence and add at least 5 000 workers all converging at a university without water,” Rwafa wrote, before stating: “It is a miracle that the UZ has not experienced an outbreak of diseases owing to shortage of water.”