THIS year has begun on a sour note, as government’s propensity for knee-jerk reactions and being reactionary was again exposed by the typhoid outbreak.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Once again, the authorities have exhibited a shocking failure to plan, as an outbreak of waterborne diseases was almost obvious and there should have taken steps to avoid it.
The City of Harare also has to shoulder a huge chunk of the blame, as the country’s capital cannot be suffering from 19th century waterborne diseases, yet it harbours ambitions to be a world-class city.
Authorities should ask themselves why these diseases are largely breaking out in the capital only, while other cities go largely untouched and this will point to a lack of planning, poor administration and, above all, a politicisation of service delivery.
Mbare, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, is literally a large dumpsite, as waste piles up in almost every corner.
As long as this waste remains uncollected, then the country can expect worse than typhoid, with diseases such as malaria lurking, with the way rainwater has been collecting in the waste.
While council can bemoan a poor culture of rate payments, surely they can prioritise and ensure waste is collected in areas that could be breeding grounds for diseases such as Mbare and other high-density suburbs.
The local authority is also guilty of random and seemingly poorly thought-out water cuts, particularly at the weekends, when the majority of people are at home and not at work and this accentuates the problem.
The City of Harare needs to find a permanent solution to the water situation, as failure to do that would be akin to dealing with symptoms and not addressing the problem.
It is also important to note that Mbare is now overpopulated and the infrastructure in that area can no longer cope with the growing population.
When parts of Mbare were initially built, they were meant for working single men, but with independence, families have moved in and a growing population has overwhelmed the infrastructure that was meant for a smaller number of people.
What the government should have done then and should do now is set up alternative accommodation for the people of Mbare and pull down the singles quarters, as they are no longer fit for purpose.
Ministerial committees can meet a million times and make so many resolutions, but the answer to the waterborne diseases is a simple one, and there is no need to waste money by holding many meetings.
There is need for the government and the city council to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure and depopulate high-density areas like the capital’s oldest suburb, Mbare.
Failure to do that is a waste of time and the authorities can as well as start preparing for another typhoid outbreak when the next rainy season sets in.
On a sad note, salary schedules have been published which show the local authority’s management gobbles a huge chunk in salaries instead of focusing efforts on service delivery.