via Open letter to Minister Kasukuwere | The Herald September 17, 2013 Tichaona Zindoga
For the last half decade or so, your name has been associated with the game-changing programme of indigenisation and economic empowerment in Zimbabwe. The onerous task of changing the economic power balance between the minority capitalist and the majority poor, who happen to be white and black, respectively, has earned you kicks and kudos almost in equal measure.
I know for certain that you have been regarded as a saviour in one quarter while in other you have been seen as a messenger of doom.
But, given your recent redeployment by President Mugabe, that is all water under the bridge now, isn’t it?
Granted, I hope your successor will build on your firm foundation and will speak with the same conviction you had and deploy all the relevant gravitas to see to it that Zimbabwe gets as economically self-determining as it is politically.
Now, the environment will be synonymous with Saviour Kasukuwere in at least five years to come, never mind the other bit of your brief, however noble, if cosmically so.
That is from the perennially dry and thirsty Bulawayo and Matabeleland regions, through Masvingo, which has the dubious distinction for being so dry despite having the biggest concentration of dams in the country, to Harare.
Many will look beyond the fortuitousness of your assuming duty during this dry season; the symbolism is great. It is trite to mention that water is life — my three year-old daughter will soon learn that at elementary school — but, you see, water has become such a luxury in Zimbabwe.
It has always been, those in the Western parts of Zimbabwe will tell you, a fact made more poignant by the mirage in the so-called Zambezi Water project that this year turns some donkey year of nothingness.
As will those in the rural areas we have somehow viewed as condemned to toiling with searching for water as they scratch the bottom of the barrel in their lives and battles with want and hunger.
And the water woes have lately knocked onto the otherwise sacred doors — or so we had hoped — of affluent suburbs like Borrowdale and Highlands, among others.
Yet residents of these suburbs may consider themselves lucky because where they fail to sink boreholes, they use their cars to carry water from boreholes, or sons and daughters of lesser gods in their employ retain the roles of the beasts of burden.
Yet let me let you in on the lives of residents of Zengeza in Chitungwiza; Nyameni in Marondera; Makokoba in Bulawayo or Sakubva in Mutare.
Just a bit.
Just a few sordid details, banal details. I hope you will not be disturbed seriously out of reading this.
Do you know, in the ghettoes it is a luxury to visit the loo, to relieve oneself because doing so entails using the toilet, using which without water is considered fouler than it is naturally.
People have learnt to defy or delay nature, thwart it at the very least.
To tame nature.
You have to use the water, by way of bathing, as sparingly as to leave just enough water to flush the toilet.
Sometimes you are not as clinical and thwarted result is that you will leave the stuff floating — disgustingly.
It disgusts you the originator, as the innocent sufferer.
You become collective sufferers. And this is not to mention pestilences associated with this all, as the 2008 cholera outbreak, which killed some 4 000 people will witness. Tragedies abound of children losing their precious lives in unsecured wells.
People lose sleep over water, literally and figuratively.
They wake up in witching hours to collect water from the drips and drops from the taps.
It takes hours to fill containers for a household’s use and this one has to consider fellow tenants, as is usually the case in the high-density suburbs, as to have the basic minimum, in case the tap dries up.
People converse as they wait, patiently, as if it is day.
These nocturnal rituals are broken only when there is no water, which is not uncommon.
Another small detail: most people now do not know that refreshing experience of a shower, like you definitely do.
It is the era of the bucket system.
In Bulawayo, people have come to be instructed to flush their toilets at some one time so that the leverage doesn’t clog — or is it for some such quirky reason?
It’s called the Big Flush.
So, you can imagine, the whole city is joined by one big messy fate.
They become one thus under the common denominator of waste as occasioned by lack of water.
The private matter becomes public.
A public shame. People suffer, sometimes stoically.
I even heard a song by a young artiste in which a persona calls for a rendezvous with a girl at a borehole!
Do I hear you trying to point out that provision of water is largely the responsibility of local authorities who in this case have been the inept MDC-T officials?
No one will begrudge that fact, including the fact that another MDC-T official, Simon Sipepa Nkomo, despite hailing from Matabeleland did next to nothing as minister of water resources in the past four or so years.
The onus will be on you, Saviour, to provide the water that will be administered by this poor folk as remain, unfortunately, in control.
Pleasantly surprise us, dear Saviour, by completing the Zambezi Water project.
Expedite the Tokwe-Murkosi and Kunzvi dams projects.
There are dams to be constructed, water harnessed.
Not only for the eradication of the sombre details had I outlined above but also for the alleviation of hunger through irrigation projects.
I hope you feel challenged enough by this letter, so early in your first week of real work, to make a change for that woman in Chitungwiza without money for pampers and has to wait for tap water to wash her baby’s nappies.
Or the hungry people in Masvingo who nurture dreams of a green belt in their area of great potential.
Or to make sure that the Zambezi Water Project does not remain a pipe dream (no pun intended).