THE opposition MDC Alliance yesterday blamed government for the deteriorating water situation in Bulawayo, saying the Zanu PF administration refused to grant the local authority permission to construct water reservoirs and infrastructure, giving all the powers to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
BY SILAS NKALA/ NQOBANI NDLOVU
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) recently introduced a six-day water-shedding regime which has led to a diarrhoea outbreak.
In his latest report on diarrhoea, Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni said at least 726 suspected cases of gastrointestinal disease were recorded and evaluated at Luveve Clinic last week.
Mguni said council had set up four treatment centres (child screening, adult screening, treatment and resuscitation) and activated a rapid response team comprising community nurses, environmental health practitioners, health promotion officers, complemented by a doctor, and at least seven nurses to conduct door-to-door searches of diarrhoea patients.
The council said the diarrhoea was linked to the foul-smelling and contaminated water which council pumps into residential homes.
Initially, the council denied that its water was to blame for the latest diarrhoea outbreak, accusing residents of storing water in dirty containers.
On Friday, council made an about-turn, revealing that it needed US$1 482 000 to address issues of water contamination in Luveve and surrounding suburbs.
That same day, residents dumped mock coffins at the Luveve council offices, the epicentre of the diarrhoea outbreak, in protest against poor service delivery, which has resulted in deaths.
MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial deputy spokesperson Felix Magalela Sibanda yesterday said government and Zinwa had failed Bulawayo residents.
“It has to be noted and conceptualised in the context that the water crisis in Matabeleland in general, and Bulawayo in particular, be directed to the government of Zimbabwe, Zinwa as the responsible department in charge of provision of water,” he said.
“Accordingly, it is the sole responsibility of Zinwa to construct dams for the provision of potable water to all urban settings of Zimbabwe, farming and rural environs.”
Sibanda said the Bulawayo water crisis was the creation of Zanu PF successive governments.
“It is not a secret that all dams providing this precious liquid to BCC were constructed at pre-independence by the successive colonial regimes. Therefore, Bulawayo residents and the nation as a whole must be aware of the discrepancies between Matabeleland region and other regions, whereby there is adequate seasonal rainfall, ironically having better provision of lakes/dams for domestic and agricultural use,” he said.
“I, therefore, plead with Bulawayo residents and all Zimbabweans to understand the genesis of water problems in Bulawayo which has culminated in waterborne diseases and death of innocent residents and citizenry in and out of Zimbabwe.”
BCC recently wrote to central government requesting that the city be granted a water crisis status, which was not granted after consultant Paul Kruger said the city had enough water, but lacked capacity to draw it.
Meanwhile, a number of households in Luveve received water disinfectants from a local church as cases of diarrhoea in the city increase.
On Saturday, Christ Life Generation Church (CLGC) provided water disinfectants to slow the spread of diarrhoea.
“It is our prayer and hope that authorities address issues to do with its water quality as an emergency to save lives. As a church, we saw it fit to assist poor households with water disinfectants with our few financial resources. We hope to mobilise more to spread this assistance to the whole suburb,” CLGC founder Mduduzi Dube said.
BCC has said it planned to address the issue of water contamination through the rehabilitation of its water and sewage infrastructure as it has reportedly outlived its lifespan.
“The infrastructure is over 50 years old and has not had any water quality challenges. The 144- hour water-shedding strained the already aged network, further complicating the system and reducing its ability to self-cleanse due to prolonged hours of no water in the network,” a council report on water contamination read in part.