BY CALVIN MANIKA
Mike Ndlovu recalls how difficult the situation was when a relative passed on late last year at Binga District Hospital in Matabeleland North.
“It was a terrible moment. We bought our own ice blocks to put on the body,” he said.
“The mortuary issue is about malfunction of the storage facility coupled with electricity blackouts and lack of a backup plan.”
“It is a sad situation having our only district hospital operating without a cold storage for bodies at the mortuary for the past seven months.”
Binga North legislator Prince Sibanda said lack of electricity in Binga speaks to the marginalisation of the region.
“It’s sad to have a district hospital, which acts as a referral for satellite clinics operating without a mortuary for the past seven months.
“Electricity has become a luxury to Binga residents and many businesses are running losses,” Sibanda said.
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“We have been facing electricity blackouts in Binga for a long time.”
The unavailability of electricity in Binga, a cultural and fishing hub in Matabeleland North has severely affected businesses.
Power outages always compromise the storage of fresh fish and consequently affect the fish market.
Monitor Munsaka, a businesswoman, said she has been counting losses because of the blackouts.
“I have lost more than 100 kikogrammes of fish this week when we stayed for three days without electricity,” Munsaka said.
“Nowadays the fishing season is picking up, but Zesa is letting us down.”
Samson Sibanda, the chairperson of the Binga District Residents Association, said Binga villagers literally lived in the ‘Stone Age’ era.
“Binga can go for two weeks or more without electricity and can you imagine everything in Binga is linked to electricity,” Sibanda said.
“This area is even dangerous when it’s dark; the wild animals also, when there is darkness, will be roaming in the roads and residential suburbs.
“Binga residents are risking crocodile and hippopotamus attacks fetching water from Zambezi River if there is no water and electricity.”
Binga is located within the Lake Kariba catchment area, but residents experience perennial water challenges because of lack of electricity to power water pumps.
“Water pumps in this town use electricity, so if there is no electricity it also means that there is no water,” Sibanda said.
While addressing a political rally at Siabuwa Business Centre ahead of the March 26 by-elections, President Emmerson Mnangangwa admitted that central government had neglected Binga.
“I want to apologse that we have not developed Binga to the level it must have,” Mnangagwa said.
“Truly we know the challenges you have been going through and we promise to attend to them as a central government to empower the people and develop Binga.”
*This article was originally published by The Citizen Bulletin, a non-profit news organisation that produces hard hitting hyperlocal reporting and analysis for south western region of Matabeleland