Source: Editorial Comment – Chitungwiza council: Something must give in | The Herald 18 OCT, 2019
It has come to our attention that things are not well at the Chitungwiza Municipality.
It is now a known fact that power struggles, mudslinging and illegal land dealings have become the order of the day at Chitungwiza Municipality while service delivery is collapsing fast.
The collapse is so monumental that the council is now failing to supply safe drinking water to its residents for at least three consecutive months.
So bad is the situation that some desperate residents have now resorted to open defecation. How sad, with the rainy season on the onset? It goes without saying that mass open defecation is a recipe for disaster during the rainy season.
Drinking water is now fetched from unprotected open wells and with seepage from the contaminated Hunyani River near St Mary’s where members of the apostolic sects conduct their baptism sessions almost every day and, where companies dump their untreated waste.
This flies right into the face of Section 77 of the country’s supreme law which states that “every person has a right to safe, clean and potable water”.
In other words, the local authority is violating the people’s right to safe, clean and potable water.
Those who strive to have clean drinking water have to pay up to $2 per bucket to those who illegally drilled boreholes on their 180 square metre stands.
However, the water appears clean, but its safety is not guaranteed.
The disturbing development puts the town at a serious risk of a cholera outbreak.
It really boggles the mind how a council worth its salt can relax and concentrate on illegally parcelling out land while people are squatting all over relieving themselves on the streets due to lack of water.
A number of top council officials are in court over illegal sale of land while the town clerk was suspended for misconduct.
The theatrics by council leadership, which saw the mayor being assaulted by residents while serving the town clerk with a suspension letter is totally unacceptable, especially, at a time when the town is sitting on a health time bomb.
It is high time council leadership should put political fights and power struggles aside and collectively work towards improving service delivery.
Most playgrounds and other breathing spaces have since been invaded and illegally allocated to individuals for construction of houses.
As if that is not enough, the leadership is always at each other’s throats. Fighting will not solve the water crisis in Chitungwiza, but the leaders must come up with solutions to the problem.
Chitungwiza should work towards having its own dam that supplies the whole town with water, and not rely on Harare City Council, which already has its own challenges.
The idea of constructing Muda Dam in Seke Rural into a giant water source for Chitungwiza is a noble one, but council leadership needs to unite and collectively source funding for the project.
With the current infighting, Chitungwiza will never achieve the goal.
However, Chitungwiza deserves a pat on the back for embarking on a noble project to drill boreholes, with reports that the local authority is targeting at least 25 boreholes.
Such a move will also go a long way in improving the water situation in the suburb.
Already, Chitungwiza, which is divided into Seke, St Mary’s and Zengeza, has a total of 189 boreholes, but only 57 are functional.
The planned 25 boreholes will bring to 82 the total number of functional boreholes, a development that will go a long way in mitigating the water crisis.
A number of boreholes, part of the 189, have since been decommissioned because of contamination.
The water reticulation system was designed to last for up to 20 years only, but has now been in use for 44 years with most of the water lost through leakages.
Apart from that, the town is also using an outdated manual system to pump water. The council needs about US$320 million to install a new water system and construct Muda Dam.
Infighting has also stalled revenue collection at Chitungwiza Municipality amid reports that the figures have drastically fallen over the past few months.