At last the government has subtly admitted failure by relieving the incompetent ZINWA of the duty to manage water and sewer reticulation services in the City of Harare and other urban areas. The Acting Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, made the announcement on the 29th of January 2009 when he presented the national budget.
Other service providers like ZEDC were also given the green light to begin to charge their services in foreign currency (high density areas are exempted). ZEDC has, however, been quiet on how it is going to bill residents. CHRA has gathered information to the effect that most residents have not yet received any bill statements from the power utility.
Water supply and the sewer system
There is a burst clean water pipe at the Rail Bridge that separates Msasa Park and Masasa Industrial Park. The pipe has been leaking a lot of clean water since November 2008. A number of burst clean water pipes (behind the National Heroes Acre) have been spraying clean water for more than two years now. Thousands of cubic meters of clean water have been lost while suburbs like Glenview, Glen Norah, Budiriro, Marlborough, Glen Lorne, Mandara and Greendale have gone for months without water supplies. However, Msasa Park and parts of Hatfield that had gone for more than four weeks without water supplies began to receive water on the Friday, the 6th of February 2009. This positive development could be attributed to the fact that ZINWA has been relieved of the duty to manage the water and sewer reticulation services in Harare. The City of Harare has resumed its duty to manage the water and sewer systems in the city.
Msasa Park went for three days (from Saturday to Monday) without electricity last week. Residents who approached the ZEDC Public Relations Office were told that the power cut had been caused by a fault but the nature of the fault was not disclosed. Power supplies in areas like Highfield, Queensdale, Hatfield, Avondale, Mabelreign, Marlborough, Highlands, Masasa, Mandara, and Kuwadzana Extension had improved during the past week. However, other areas like Kambuzuma, Warren Park, Rugare, Dzivarasekwa and Mufakose experienced intermittent power cuts.
There have been no significant changes in terms of prices of goods.
Some grass cutters have also been working in the city centre cutting the long grass that had become an eyesore on the sides of most roads. However, despite these positive developments, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done as most roads that connect different suburbs to the city centre are still lined with long grass. There has also not been much improvement in street lighting especially in high density suburbs. In addition to that, there are some traffic lights at critical road intersections that have not been functional for the better part of the week.
Examples are; the Glennara/Chiremba intersection, corner Charter and Rezende Roads in the city centre, the Steven Drive/ Mutare Road intersection, Lynett/ Mutare Road intersection, Cavan Lane/ Mutare Road intersection. Potholes continue to litter almost every road in the city of Harare; a situation that has made these roads to be a death snare to both pedestrians and motorists. The Lynett/ Mutare Road (opposite Tenda bus Company) intersection is also strewn with gully-like potholes that caused a car accident on Friday (6th February) morning. The car was trying to avoid the potholes when it hit another one that was in front. CHRA urges the City of Harare to make concerted efforts to renovate the roads as a matter of urgency so as to avoid unnecessary road accidents.
The City of Harare has been doing some work in the waste management department in spite of the fact that most of the Council workers have been on strike. The City of Harare had to engage temporary workers to clean the streets of the city. Areas that have since been worked on include Fourth Street Bus terminus, Market Square and First Street, just to mention a few. However, there seems to be no improvement in terms of collecting refuse from the suburbs. There is still need for the Council to revive regular and constant refuse collection in the suburbs of the city especially in high density areas where informal dumpsites have become an eyesore.
The political atmosphere
The Constitutional Amendment Bill No/ 19 was passed in Parliament on the 4th of February 2009 after the MDC-T agreed to join the inclusive government. The Bill will enable the MDC-T leader to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe; while Professor Arthur Mutambara becomes the Deputy Premier. CHRA hopes that this development will mark the beginning of positive changes both politically and economically. The Association also urges the principal political parties to honour their promise to work together towards rebuilding Zimbabwe.
The dollarisation of the economy remains a challenge for residents who earn their salaries in the local currency as they are finding it difficult to access basic services like health which are being charged in foreign currency. The Combined Harare Residents Association hopes that the inclusive government will look into this issue as one of the top priorities and try to ensure that basic services are accessible and affordable to all. The Association will continue to advocate for good, transparent and accountable local governance in Harare and beyond.