HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSaturday dialogue: Protests over water, power bills inevitable

Saturday dialogue: Protests over water, power bills inevitable


Water is a basic human right because it is a commodity that every person relies on so much.

No living being can survive without it because it is a prerequisite for human health and well-being as well as for the preservation of the environment.

Water is no doubt essential for life. Is it not water that brings life to a dead garden? Water also has medicinal properties that keep people in proper health check.

Water is just everything human beings rely on in order to survive.

But water in Zimbabwe has unfortunately become an elusive commodity which has frustrated millions of ratepayers.

I, for example, have not had a proper bath for two weeks because of the scarcity of this precious liquid.

I leave home daily before 7am and get back home after 9pm daily. I always get home to both darkness and no water every single day.

I don’t remember the last time I had a decent meal because there is hardly any water running through the taps to ensure that I cook clean food.

My television, radio and fridges have become ornaments that once upon a time made home such a happy and comfortable environment to be.

Today home is a nightmare especially for those with little children and newborn babies.

I discovered used pampers and sanitary towels recently strewn along a street in my neighbourhood and that really annoyed me.

But what could these people have done given the fact that there is no water to rinse these items before disposal?

Refuse collection in most areas of Harare is also unreliable.

My bin has not been collected for a month now and this has been the trend over the past few years.

I sometimes carry the rubbish into town and dump it in skip bins at Speke Avenue bus terminus in the central business district.

I have to do it because the refuse gets so smelly and unbearable. While we all appreciate the problems besetting local authorities throughout Zimbabwe, it is imperative that communication becomes a vital tool to cool tempers that are beginning to flare up.

For years these problems were attributed to lack of foreign currency and when Zimbabwe dollarised the economy, we all thought this would be a thing of the past.

But water and power bills continue to escalate and one wonders whether these entities really have a heart for the people they are serving.

We are all aware about the general salary scales of most workers and so is it fair to charge for a service that has not been delivered?

Every other household is digging a well in their gardens and some of them are so dangerous that children have sometimes fallen into these unprotected pits.

All this is happening because residents have become too desperate and their quest for regular supplies is a matter that cannot be debated.

A woman in the Westgate area recently gave birth to a premature baby and she needed so much water and constant power because of the bleeding that she was experiencing.

The baby needed constant warmth from electrical heaters.

We had to bring water in containers from Harare city centre because she had no means to obtaining that precious liquid.

Her husband had travelled to India on business and he instructed me to find them a flat in town where there is a regular supply of water and power.

This couple has temporarily since moved into a bedsit, leaving their home unattended until such a time when the woman and baby have fully recovered.

What an inconvenience.

A friend on Friday posted on her Facebook profile and it read: “The ‘landromat’ (muddy hole in the ground) on Harare Drive is packed, women washing clothes and others fetching water. Our time travel into the 12th Century is unstoppable – who needs safe water when Very Important Citizens can drive around in luxury vehicles? Some animals are more equal than others . . .”

That is unfortunately the situation on the ground.
Women are spending most of their time looking for water and firewood to light fires to cook meals, but we are wondering how long this will go on.

The meter readings are never taken and all bills are estimates. Even in a situation where the reading has been recorded, that does not appear on the next bill.

Why are we being made to pay for a service that has not been delivered? And why are we keeping quiet over these matters?

Are the City Fathers waiting for yet another cholera disaster before they start acting?

I really do not understand all this, but the fact remains that the ordinary person is suffering in silence as demand for cash for dry taps continues.

The rich have not been affected as they have boreholes that are fuel-driven by generators that pump water right into their taps leaving the rest of us in limbo.

If you are drinking water from a private well, how safe is that water? What health risks could you and your family face?

These are issues local authorities should be addressing because they are real.

On July 28 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to realisation of all human rights.

The resolution says water has to be accessible, affordable and that sanitation for all is vital.

The United Nations Development Programme suggests that water costs should not exceed 3% of household income. The time shall come when Zimbabweans will say enough is enough.

And when they do so, they will obviously be labelled traitors or enemies of the State and yet this will be just a cry for help.

Something has to be done to avert disaster. God help us.


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