RESIDENTS of Bulawayo’s Emnganwini suburb went to the polls yesterday without running water.
For the past two weeks, water supply across the country’s second largest city has been seriously constrained with the local authority blaming reduced pumping capacity due to ongoing repairs at the city’s water treatment plant.
For most residents of Emnganwini on the city’s furthest western boundary, the water woes they perennially face were among many issues voters in the area considered when they cast their ballots yesterday to choose Zimbabwe’s next President, parliamentarians and councillors.
The plebiscite’s outcome will start trickling today till next week Monday when the presidential tally is expected in a poll which has been characterised by numerous court battles involving the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and its many stakeholders.
The run up to the polls has also witnessed pockets of violence, human rights abuses, accusation of intimidation, alleged attempts to rig the poll through vote buying and tweaking of the postal vote and a hotly disputed voters roll.
For an Emnganwini housewife who preferred to be identified as umaMpofu, voting has become one dreary affair which she has completely lost faith in.
“I am tired of voting because nothing is changing,” she told Southern Eye. “I feel anger each time I enter the poling station when our hospitals have no painkillers. My son nearly died at Mpilo Hospital because there was no medicine.”
She also said she was removed from her old polling station to a new one, a long distance away, an issue which is likely to be a sticking point in this election which saw Zec creating new constituencies last year in a delimitation exercise shrouded in secrecy.
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“Last time (in 2018) when I voted it was dark inside the polling station and you could not even see anything on the ballot paper,” said maMpofu.
Norbert Ndlovu participated in the polls hoping for a better economic future for the troubled city, once Zimbabwe’s industrial pride but has turned into one huge ghostly scrap yard where even the country’s rail transporter, the National Railways of Zimbabwe is headquartered, but now a miserable pale shadow of its former self.
He believes the fact that the government of the day has failed to revive Bulawayo and create a stable currency is telling. In Bulawayo the Zimdollar no longer exists with the city now trading in United States dollars and the South African rand. Electronic money transactions are only prevalent in formal retail shops.
“I am unemployed,” said Ndlovu. “The situation in Bulawayo’s industries is very sad and it clearly tells you that something is wrong with our economy and I voted for change. I am not saying whoever I voted for is the best, but that change is very important for this country to develop.”
Junior Moyo, who is one of the few in formal employment in a largely informalised city and country struggling with an over 90% unemployment rate, did not stay away from the ballot which many of his peers have been boycotting in the past, saying the process hardly changes their plight which has now turned half of their number into drug and substance abusers.
He said not voting did not help the situation.
“My vote is based on the economic hardships we are facing as a country. Not voting will not really help us, especially us the youths. We must keep voting, maybe one day things will change,” Moyo said, adding that the state of the economy might determine the outcome of this election.