RESIDENTS of the dormitory town of Epworth were on Wednesday left shocked after a Zanu PF councillor in the area walked out on them after disagreeing on issues they wanted to present to him.
BY GARIKAI TUNHIRA
Hamson Shadaya, the ward 6 councillor, asked to be recused from a meeting with residents who wanted to present their concerns to the Epworth Local Board.
Residents had accused land barons of parcelling out land, with others insinuating that councillors were also involved in shady land deals, particularly in wards 6 and 7.
They said the regularisation and parcelling-out of stands without paying attention to the need for water and sewage reticulation infrastructure development would impinge on the health of the community.
Ward 4 councillor and Epworth board chairperson Tafireyi Murambidzi allowed Shadaya to recuse himself from the chamber if he was not comfortable with attending the meeting. The meeting had been convened by the Epworth Residents’ Development Association (ERDA) and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR).
ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai said they had organised the meeting so that residents could present the challenges they were facing to the town board.
“We organised it to create interface between residents and councillors over the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Epworth,” he said, adding Epworth legislator Zalerah Makari had been invited to attend, but did not turn up.
“We also wanted to submit a public health assessment report produced by ZADHR and ERDA, which reveals the absence of systematic WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] infrastructure with households still unable to access minimum volumes of clean water; reliance on pit latrines and the increased likelihood of overflowing effluent and poor refuse management.”
Ward 2 resident Mary Mafuta said their stands were too small, hence there was no room to drill wells or new blair toilets if current ones got filled up.
Another resident, Lambert Mukaandira of ward 5, said there were intermittent collections of garbage as well as water services.
“Council should see that residents have access to safe drinking water through provision of piped water and also have wells covered to ensure their safety. We have had cases of people drowning in wells here,” he said.
On the issue of poor service delivery, Murambidzi accused the residents of not paying rates, thereby affecting service delivery.
“You cannot ask for a meal at home where you did not leave money to buy mealie meal and relish. It’s just like asking for service delivery when you are not paying rates,” he said.
Murambidzi said the residents owed the town council $5,12 million and urged them to pay up. But the residents shot back, saying they would not pay for non-services.
The residents also proposed that the local authority constructs market stalls to ensure hygienic vending sites to avert diarrhoea and typhoid outbreaks during the rainy season.
Other councillors who attended were Chaneta (ward 5), Mazhandu (ward 1), Muchoni (ward 7) and Muhambi (ward 3).