‘Only a fifth of Zimbabwe has access to clean water. This situation constitutes a clear and present threat to the health of the population … The collapse of local water systems across the country has left many Zimbabweans, especially in urban centres such as Harare and Bulawayo, exposed to water-borne diseases … Zanu PF will reverse this situation after the elections.”
Candid Comment by Stewart Chabwinja
So reads the promise-laden Zanu PF manifesto which pitched the catchphrase “indigenise, empower, develop and create employment” ahead of the 2013 general elections which ushered the party back into power. Disingenuously but rather predictably, the manifesto solely blamed “corruption in local authorities by the MDC formations” as the reason for the service delivery breakdown.
It is about eight months after the elections and where are we? There is not even the slightest hint Zanu PF has even begun to “reverse” the situation. On the contrary, the country appears stuck on a carousel, dizzy from the same old challenges that keep haunting the country, especially the economy, with a few new ones thrown in for good measure.
Currently, most suburbs in Harare have gone for over three weeks without water thanks to rationing by council as the upgrading of Morton Jaffray Waterworks continues. It’s nothing new, of course. The bad news from council is that the water crisis would only abate when the upgrading of the water treatment plant is completed.But it is not clear when!
Not surprisingly, about 112 people have died of diarrhoeal diseases in the last two months. Health ministry officials have warned most people’s health is in danger as households in Harare are estimated to be surviving on less than 50 litres of water per day for all domestic needs.
Nor is electricity supply faring much better, with an increase in power outages being attributed to the same old technical faults that have become Hwange Power Station’s hallmark. Equally familiar is the cry from the country’s despairing industry, with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce deputy president Davison Norupiri bemoaning that power outages had seriously hurt the industrial.
Thus the post-election narrative remains one of mostly despair rather that hope. This week Reckitt Benckiser, an international firm popular for its domestic sanitation products, announced it would be auctioning its plant and equipment mid-month, signalling the death knell of its operations here.
It cited, among others, deteriorating economic conditions in the country, highlighting operational costs related to labour, and utilities such as power and water. Benckiser’s plight is emblematic, with statistics revealing numerous companies are succumbing to a hostile operating environment, rendering more people jobless.
Even allowing for the fact that no one in their right minds expected an overnight recovery, the absence of even a whiff of progress in government’s mission to revive service delivery in general and the economy in particular is instructive.
Clueless, bankrupt, shunned by foreign investors and weighed down by corruption; the Zanu PF government now appears paralysed and dysfunctional.