Reports that raw sewage is spilling into Harare City Council’s water reticulation system every day are disturbing, to say the least.
Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi revealed this while giving oral evidence to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism.
Mahachi said the local authority can only purify 54 megalitres of the 144 megalitres of contaminated water that passes through its Firle Main Waterworks daily.
This means that less than half of the water in the system is purified. He also revealed that they were only using eight to nine chemicals to clean the water.
This is a shocking revelation especially at this juncture when 1 500 people across Harare have been affected by the typhoid outbreak.
Clearly no lessons have been learnt from the 2008 cholera epidemic that claimed more than 4 000 lives. This was a result of gross incompetence by the powers-that-be.
There is need for government and the city council to work together on this issue to avert another crisis that will result in the unnecessary loss of lives.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo should be seized with this issue and work with the council to avert a looming disaster.
One wouldn’t think that we are in the throes of a crisis of such magnitude if Chombo’s behaviour is anything to go by.
Chombo has been on a crusade of firing elected MDC-T councillors and stuffing the council with special interest councillors from Zanu PF as the typhoid scourge threatens the city. A typical case of fiddling while Rome burns!
Mahachi’s claims that they have made the situation better since nothing was working when they came into office cuts no ice with Harare residents.
The typhoid scourge and the spectre of other water-borne diseases will continue to loom over the health of the residents they have been elected to serve.
Residents demand results, not explanations. They did not elect councillors to be told that the current situation is better than when they came in, when people are still in harm’s way. This borders on arrogance!
These are the areas to which the inclusive government should direct more resources rather than globetrotting to endless talk-shops around the world and trying to score cheap political points.
With reports that the typhoid outbreak has now spread to Bindura, it could only be a matter of time before the scourge becomes a national crisis.
Politicians should not be pointing fingers at each other for the current mess. This is not a Zanu PF issue nor an MDC-T one.
It affects the whole country and the inclusive government should end the scourge without further preamble.