A TALE OF A DARK CITY
This is the first edition in 2008 of the local government weekly updates that CHRA sends to you. CHRA will continue to provide accurate and up to date information on the goings on in local governance. This article will therefore not be restricted to issues affecting Harare in the past week but the whole of January 2008.
The power situation in Harare worsened in the month of January as Mozambique cut supplies to Zimbabwe. The situation was further compounded by power exports to Namibia for debt servicing. This resulted and renewed load shedding programs that have disrupted normal life in Harare. Eskom South Africa has also cut supplies to Zimbabwe owing to increased demand due to World Cup construction activities. Others speculate that power cuts from South Africa come after failed attempts by President Thabo Mbeki’s` failure to pressure Mugabe to agree on a new constitution. The cuts are that’s part of the pressure being exerted from Pretoria. This also led to heavy water cuts as water plants could not pump in water for residential and industrial consumption.
On Saturday 19 January the power situation got even worse as the entire nation was plunged into darkness following what ZESA described as systems disturbance originating from Zambia. The entire nation was in darkness for well over 18 hours. Although power was restored in City centers and other critical points like hospitals most residential suburbs went on for over 24 hours without power. Business came to a stand still as most shops and offices were closed. Even communication was difficult as network was disturbed. The electricity problem continues and it seems Harare is yet to get darker as there is no solution in sight.
Government setup a taskforce to assist ZESA to deal with the power problem. The taskforce has recommended that the Ministry of Finance should consider a duty waiver on all power equipment like solar panels, generators etc. This is a welcome development as most Zimbabweans are now sourcing alternative sources of power generation as ZESA fails to deal with electricity woes. Water crisis
Water problems continue to bite Harare with areas that were previously not affected now getting water cuts. The water shortages are also exacerbated by the power cuts that have hit the nation. In Hatcliffe residents have gone for three months without water, in Masasa and Hatfield residents went for 4 weeks without water only getting it early this week. There were fears of Cholera outbreaks as the situation got out of hand. In Mabvuku and Tafara residents continue to be dogged by water problems as Cholera continue to affect residents. In Marlborough and surrounding areas residents now collect water from nearby burst pipes and streams.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) reports that major dams are about 95 percent full with mot of them over spilling. It is ironic in this situation then, to continue having water cuts. The shortage of chemicals has also meant that ZINWA cannot pump sufficient water to feed into Harare. Road maintenance and environmental management Roads in Harare have become a menace and driving is proving difficult. There are potholes large enough to be gullies and the Commission running the City of Harare is intransigent in fixing the situation. CHRA has been receiving desperate complains from residents who are finding driving difficult. Harare’s roads are in a pathetic state. The City has slowly sliding into a slum as there is little or no cleaning being done. Residents complain that refuse removal is not being done and formal and informal dumping sites are flourishing with dirty. This is a potential breeding ground for disease causing organisms, especially during the rain season.
While the City has started its grass cutting program, CHRA continues to receive calls from residents who complain about tall grass that is disturbing traffic and also a potential ground for criminals to hide. Falling houses in Epworth and Mukuvisi settlements
Several houses in Epworth and Mukuvisi settlement are reported to have fallen down as the heavy rains continued for the greater part of December and January. In Epworth several houses have collapsed and some on the verge of collapse. In an area called Kwajacha within Epworth water logging has led to over thirty (30) houses falling down. (Note that the number could be more than 30, the CHRA team could not navigate some of the muddy roads but Epworth residents claim there are over 100 houses that have fallen down).
Residents living around the Mukuvisi River are also crying foul as the rains have destroyed their homes. Most of the houses, built on mud and plastic shacks were visibly falling apart while some had already fallen down. Residents in this area told the CHRA team that sometimes the rains pound them at night and they have to sleep in the open waiting for the day to come and rebuild. Residents in this area are also victims of Operation Murambatsvina. It is evident that the state of service delivery has collapsed in Harare. CHRA continues to urge residents through its local district offices to come up with action plans that address their local problems. Residents are urged to vote responsible leaders who are accountable to the people. CHRA will continue to demand quality municipal services and promote accountable and transparent local governance systems through its various programs.