Political power should not be an end in itself

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For a long time, there has been consensus that the potable water Harare is pumping into our homes on those few occasions when we have the water is of questionable quality.

Although some have not taken this seriously as it was mainly just talk in the public domain based on suspicions and inferences without a concrete basis, revelations in Parliament this week demand that we take notice.

Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism that 90 megalitres of raw sewage spills into Harares supply streams almost on a daily basis.

He added that the local authority was only able to purify 54 megalitres of the 144 megalitres of contaminated water that passes through its Firle Main Waterworks daily. He said they have to use eight or nine chemicals to purify the water and ensure it is potable.

In the same week, the director of the epidemiology and disease control unit in the Ministry of Health, Portia Manangazira, told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare that 203 new cases of typhoid were this week recorded as the disease spread to other parts of the country amid fears the contagion could explode to the 2008 cholera outbreak levels.

Since the first outbreak in October, the epidemic has claimed one life and recorded 3 074 suspected cases. Manangazira described the outbreak as raging and added that the ministry was incapacitated to deal with a major outbreak should there be an explosion.

These are, clearly, matters of life and death. These are the issues that those voted into office should be grappling with.

Tragically, those in the political corridors seem to be obsessively preoccupied with holding onto power by hook and crook. Issues that affect the electorate such as access to clean water, health services, electricity, food etc have ceased to top their priority list.

Recent calls by President Robert Mugabe for a general election with or without a new constitution are very worrying. It has been said over and over that the country, which is battling a debilitating liquidity crunch, cannot afford an election.

Even if that money could be secured by some means, would it not be better to use it to ensure better services to the population?

It is very ironic, if not laughable, that Zanu PF is always accusing the MDC-T for the mess in this nation when we all know that by the time the MDC appeared on the political landscape, Zanu PF in government since 1980 had long run down the country and reduced it to a shell.

Infections like cholera and typhoid are archaic diseases that cannot be allowed to claim lives. But it is unfortunate that the priorities of those in power are so confused and for that reason, it is the ordinary people who will continue to pay the price for some peoples leadership failures.

Manangaziras sentiments that the nation would not be able to deal with a widespread typhoid outbreak should shock the sensible ones in government out of the comfort zones into which they have been ensconced for too long.

It is scandalous in this day and age that people are still drinking water contaminated with particles of human waste which causes typhoid.

For a long time, the Zanu PF component of government has chosen to blame sanctions on its decade-long failure to deliver, but I am sure that mantra no longer has any takers apart from Zanu PF insiders.

In fact, some within their own ranks as the Wikileaks revelations have shown beyond doubt believe that the answer to our current multi-faceted crises lies in seeing Mugabes back.

For too long those privileged to govern us have used sanctions as an excuse not to deliver. Ironically, they continually preach to us the gospel of how Zimbabwes all-weather friend, Cuba, has successfully tip-toed around its own sanctions to make a success of their economy.

So why not glean precious lessons from the Cuban experience and do likewise if it is indeed such a success as they would have us believe?

The bottom line is that power should be used a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Power should be used to ensure that the dreams of ordinary people crying out for better services are realised. It should be used to ensure that their basic needs are met through the provision of quality services.

pchidavaenzi@newsday.co.zw