People need service delivery not MoUs

DESPITE much-publicised deals supposed to improve the economy as well as water and electricity supply, it is common cause there has been no change with some households currently going as long as 16 hours without electricity.

Candid Comment with Stewart Chabwinja

Suburbs are currently in the vice-grip of intense power cuts and punitive water shortages.

On Monday’s ZBC’s Newshour a video clip graphically illustrated the daunting, routine challenge that confronts many residents in the capital which condemns their existence to a daily grind.

Scores of desperate residents in Glen Norah and adjacent suburbs were captured busy in heavily-polluted Mukuvisi River, which they have come to depend on for washing laundry and bathing despite the river being chock-a-bloc with pollutants from sewer and industrial chemicals.

Those interviewed said they had no choice after going for weeks without tap water, while many boreholes drilled by Unicef mostly in vulnerable high-density suburbs at the height of the cholera epidemic in 2008 have fallen into disrepair.

Co-conspiring with water hardships is the “intensified load-shedding” — as Zesa’s glib statement puts it — that has left many households with power only when they are deep in slumber until the crack of dawn.

The excuses for shoddy water and electricity services are so well-worn as to require no restating.

Incessant water and power cuts are among the plethora of hardships that are a reality for Zimbabweans, which also include current house demolitions by council (some nocturnal); job losses in a tough economic environment and crumbling infrastructure.

Government has abjectly failed to provide the most basic of services enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that include housing, medical care and vital social services.

The so-called mega deals celebrated in certain sections of the media as a coup towards the attainment of the country’s latest economic master plan, ZimAsset, will remain an illusion until they spawn tangible results that better lives.

For now most of them remain mere promises — sometimes not even worth the paper they are written on. In any case, many of the deals touted as transforming the country and hence people’s lives are shrouded in opacity and graft, with the Kariba South Extension Project’s costs ballooning from US$355 million to US$533 million under suspicious circumstances.

So Zimbabweans are justified in being sceptical when the executive signs high-sounding deals, memorandums of understanding or officiates at groundbreaking ceremonies. We have a blight of impressive — on paper — government projects that never see light of day.

The late transport minister, Enos Chikowore’s famous ground-breaking ceremonies across the Hunyani River for the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line which has not been constructed despite the preliminary assessment (technical and economic) being completed in May 1987 is a case in point.

If there was a grain of truth in President Robert Mugabe’s claims in July that things were starting to get better, he was obviously not referring to the supply of water and electricity, or the economy.