Mayor lifts lid on cholera

NEW Harare mayor, Herbert Gomba says the central government and Zanu PF should take responsibility for the cholera outbreak which has so far claimed the lives of 21 people, alleging that a caretaker commission that was put in place to run city’s affairs last month abrogated its duties leading to the outbreak.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE/JAIROS SAUNYAMA/VANESSA GONYE

Health minister Obadiah Moyo told a meeting of government departments dealing with the outbreak that cholera had now spread outside the capital, with more than 3 000 people now infected.

The outbreak is the biggest since 2008 when 4 500 people died and another 40 000 were treated after being infected.

Gomba said although it was not appropriate in the circumstances to play the blame game, the newly-appointed Health minister should “shut up” and assist in solving the crisis as his Zanu PF party and the central government were largely to blame for the outbreak.

“If we are to be honest to ourselves, this issue is all because of Zanu PF and central government. While we accept that our council

ought to have done more in terms of public health management, central government and Zanu PF should feel ashamed for this. They should not even try to blame us, but assist in finding a solution,” Gomba told NewsDay.

Gomba said government last year undertook a study on boreholes and it was discovered that most of them were contaminated and ordered that they be decommissioned.

“But because central government had failed to provide a reliable source of water for the residents, and people continued to use those boreholes,” Gomba said.

“Also, we had a challenge of Zanu PF politicians who, during campaigns, were telling the people to use borehole water even though as council we had decommissioned them. Our workers could not do anything. When the previous council was out of office and government set up a commission, the workers went on strike because the commission did nothing to provide them with protective clothing. This also exposed people to a situation under which no one could do the public health monitoring and garbage collection.”

The Harare mayor said the absence of such mechanisms, exposed residents to unsafe water and the end result was a cholera outbreak.

“We remain committed to do our job to solve the cholera/typhoid pandemic. We have been calling on government to build Kunzvi and Musami dams since 2008 in order to deal with water supply issue and you have a minister coming in saying we have failed, it is sad. People are dying and (residents) certainly don’t need all this,” Gomba stated.

On Tuesday, Moyo blamed council for failing to collect garbage and attending to sewer outbursts in the affected areas as the cause for the outbreak.

But Gomba said from the laboratory tests conducted last week, the epicentre of the outbreak was the same boreholes that had been decommissioned as well as lack of monitoring by city workers on public health.

“The minister should have taken time to ask his officials what happened before opening his mouth. We don’t need to expose our lack of understanding on public health issues so early. This is a problem which central government and Zanu PF should take responsibility for.

“Had the illegal commission which was there attended to the welfare of the workers, we could have prevented this. Had government provided the long talked about Kunzvi Dam and other new water sources, we could have not exposed people to use contaminated boreholes,” Gomba said

Another city councillor, Jacob Mafume, who is also the MDC Alliance spokesperson said the cholera outbreak was a result of “lack of seriousness by central government to fund infrastructural development”.

“The minister has to stop the blame game and focus on the crisis. He should not make us think that (former Health minister David) Parirenyatwa was better by uttering lies. This is a central government issue. He must appreciate that we don’t have enough water to supply residents and central government has the obligation to source for that,” Mafume said.

“They have for years failed to deliver on the Musami or Kunzvi projects. I urge to minister to think more and speak less on these issues. We don’t intend to question his educational capacity or question the authenticity of his doctorate just because he is showing a lack of appreciation of public health issues.”

However Local Government minister July Moyo, who appointed the contentious commission to run Harare, said he had engaged the mayor on the cholera issue and they had agreed on a work programme.

“The issue of the commission is nothing really to the matter we have at hand. The commission was in place for two weeks only. Council management was also there, they ought to have looked at those things,” Moyo said.

“For your own information, I met the mayor and his deputy this morning and we are charting a way forward. I don’t think this would help at all. Let us focus on solving the issue at hand and mapping a way forward than looking for scapegoats.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said as far as the party was concerned, all urban local authorities have been under the jurisdiction of the MDC and they should not blame anyone for the outbreak.

“The Health minister has details on that, but all I know is that all urban local authorities have been under the MDC.
If they cannot be held accountable for their failure, then they should not be anywhere near governance.”

In Mashonaland East province, six cases of cholera have so far been reported.

According to provincial epidemiology and disease control officer Paul Matsvimbo, of the six suspected cases, three were reported in Marondera, while Murehwa, Seke and Wedza districts reported a case each.

“The province received reports of suspected a cholera outbreak on Friday evening and as of Tuesday, six suspected cases have been reported,” he said.

“All the cases so far are linked to an earlier cholera outbreak in Harare, they did not originate within this province. One of the patients admitted to Wedza Hospital actually stays in Glen View and had gone to Wedza for work.

The one admitted at Musami (Murehwa) had also travelled from Glen View, so these cases are directly linked with Harare.”

Meanwhile, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has urged responsible authorities to implement measures to eliminate factors leading to the spread of disease.

Speaking after a tour of Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital, Auxillia also called on people to ensure their safety at all costs.

“All this is happening as a result of overcrowding and poor service delivery. People should be given land to build houses and avoid overcrowding and the subsequent spread of diseases like cholera,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network, Econet Wireless joined the fight against the outbreak and yesterday launched a public awareness campaign.

The group yesterday said it has also begun to offer material support to public health teams working to combat the epidemic.

“We have partnered with the government, through the Health and Child Care ministry’s department of epidemiology and disease control, to offer centrally co-ordinated material support to the nationwide effort to combat the cholera outbreak,” the company’s chief executive, Douglas Mboweni said.

“We are sad at the deaths that have been reported due to the outbreak of this disease and we will play our part by using our resources and our reach to help prevent the spread of the disease and save lives.”

He said the support included preventive items, such as hand sterilisation material, aqua tablets and special protective clothing for health workers, as well as case management supplies that include antibiotic medicines and IVR fluids.

Mboweni said Econet had already begun sending out free SMS alerts to the public, educating them on how the disease is contracted and how it spreads, how to avoid contracting the disease, how to prevent its spread and how to treat it.

32 Comments

  1. mukovhe wa tshilidzi

    uri gomba remarara chairo. ko basa re city health department ndereyi nhasi gomba? kana kuti uri gomba redzvetsva?

    1. Aiwa hauna kuverenga zvakanaka. Gomba ataura kuti ibasa reHurumende (Central Government) kuvaka madhamu akaita seKunzvi. Izvi zvinoita kuti kanzuru iwane mvura yekupa vagari yakachena. Kana vanhu vawana mvura yakachena mumapombi havazogwedyi mvura yakan’ora inobva mumabhoholu. Hurumendi ndiyo inoita kuti vagari veHarare vawane mabasa kana ikakwezva vemabhizimisi. Kana vanhu vawana mabasa vanowana mari yekubhadhara mutero kukanzuru. Izvi zvinoita kuti kanzuru ichitenga mishonga yekuchenesa mvura uye kugadzirisa mapombi anouya nemvura.

    2. gomba chairo ramarara

  2. I think the same ED business partners who funded the celebrity jet for Grace must chirp in and help us on this cholera scourge

  3. With our Zim is open for business mantra, those who lie or try to be now serious yet for all the years they were part of the gravy train should be exposed. Bob was not alone when this decay was allowed to go on. Now is the time to look for his followers. Government means collective effort not individual brilliance.

  4. guys stop that bickering and blame game . it is the lives of people that is at stake here . people are dying and you busy blaming each other. minister and mayor sit down and come up with a solution. your political differences aside. value life and focus on finding a solution

  5. This new guy has kicked off badly and these type of statements from a Mayor who has hardly settled in his post does not inspire any confidence, we have a problem which need united effort and MDC as the ones in charge were suppose to Shine and lead by example by running around to source for help and expertise to quickly arrest this problem in the urban areas which incidentally provide them with their lifeline when it comes to votes,but alas the whole team is mute and busy scrutinizing for holes to blame the current government, lets stop this childish behaviour.

  6. Point on Minister however the situation on the ground needs collective effort to ensure people are saved from cholera

  7. Progressive Zimbabwean

    Gomba, Gomba, Gomba stop the blame game. The burst water pipe is not repaired by the building of Kunzwi Dam. Learn to accept responsibility. Learn from July Moyo’s response. We know as residents that we report burst water pipes and it takes weeks to resolve most of these. We are not fools as residents and know who to blame for what. There are instances where we blame government and there are instances where we trace the problems to council. As long as council is dysfunctional no amount of money can bring sanity to the chaos. There is need to see the process flows in council and perhaps even look at the actual scheduling of work and re engineer these as and when necessary. This is an operational issue that requires that we stop politicking and start introspecting. Take responsibility and get down to work.

  8. Cde Gabarinocheka

    @Eliasha…you were lobbing for ED pfee now its Cholera Pfee, dai manyoka acho akambokushanyirawo umboswerawo uri pachemba cz hauna tsitsi nevanhu varikutambura…

  9. Right now the onus is on the Ministry of Health to provide leadership, so as to oversee a response to this outbreak; coordinating the many players and several provinces involved. After it is under control, the investigation can then follow: causes, long term remedies, the response itself etc. Although we have some new players, there should be more than enough institutional memory; the novices need only get with the program rather than providing distraction.

  10. It’s only common sense to say that no local council or municipality can be expected to produce financial miracles & deliver anything meaningful when the macro economy of the country itself is in dire straits

  11. Ummm Gomba …Dont be fast young man rwendo rwurefu.Stop playing the blame game pahupenyu hwemunhu

  12. This Mayor guy is just crap.The Councils have been run down by his party for the past 10 years.He wants central government to repair burst sewer pipes.You have to pay bribes for council to come and repair burst pipes in your area these days. Man up and try to resuscitate service delivery in our locations.

  13. The Editor, instead of publishing political statements on the disease on the rampage why not utilise the space on educational awareness on the disease. Why aiming at making profit with useless articles instead of contributing in utmost good faith towards fighting the disease.

  14. Why blame the commission that was only in office for a mere two week? So council stopped repairing burst water and sewer pipes because central government failed to implement the Kunzvi dam project? Are you telling us council workers went on strike after the commission that was in office for only two weeks failed to give them protective clothing? Gomba be serious. You just hit the ground flat on your tummy and will you ever take this city to its former glory?

  15. that’s the problem with MDC always politicizing everything in Zimbabwe, a national disaster should be a responsibility for every Zimbabwean, This Gomba must mad just like chamisa

  16. I think blaming the government at this juncture does not make sense. We want to know your plan to resolve this to justify the purpose of your post. Harare City Council is collecting a lot of monies on parking fees for motor vehicles among some revenue generating activities. What is it using those monies for? Why not channel those funds to provide water treatment chemicals and repair of burst pipes for now? You need to exhibit greater dexterity in resource allocation rather than blaming government or Zanu PF because the time for campaigning is over. Recently the private media was awash with Chamisa’s visit to see cholera victims at the hospitals but my question is what is his contribution towards ending the spread of the disease or even curing the patients? I thought Mr Gomba was going to seek permission to divert funds towards abating the diseases. Thus, it is my conviction that the Mayor should not major on the minors when cholera is severely affecting people. I don’t think you were employed to blame Zanu PF or the goverment as this will demean the confidence of those who appointed you.

  17. It’s unfortunate that some people are employed because they are deemed to be good at blaming others for their incompetency

  18. This is not the time for blame game. zvizhinji zvinozotaurirwana after chirwere chamiswa otherwise this time we expect positive ideas on how to control this.

  19. I like the Mayor. He is a brave man. He does not beat about the bush. Zanu is the only party that destroyed Zim. Chombo was the local govt minister, and he single handedly destroyed Harare. People do not have stands becoz of Chombo and Zanu. Chombo was the one who instructed the city councils to write off rate payers debts thereby causing the municipalities to lose thousands of dollars of revenue money. Mujuru when she was a minister instructed Zinwa to take control of all city towns and the cholera that killf many pple in 2008 was caused by Zanu and Mujuru. Zanu is an evil party with useless politicians who only blames MDC councils. Chiwenga told some residents to stop paying council bills and imagine a vice president talking such nonsese.
    VANHU VE ZANU VANOFUNGA NEKU MHA₹A. Nxaaa!!!

  20. Zanu govt is to blame for the cholera. Why the hell did Zanu govt not build Kunzvi dam? The 15 billion which Zanu Mugabe stole was enough to build Kunzvi dam and repair old pipes. Mayor is right and he is not a push over. A Zanu person is the one who posted the negative comments above criticising the Mayor.

  21. it’s is true that central government is the ultimate office of accountability but it must also be strongly noted that the Harare residents all along have been paying their monthly rates for water and sewer to City of Harare not to the central government. All the rates being paid up are monitored by the councilors through the directors that they appoint. The use of funds in any local authority is strongly monitored by the councillors. Gomba is a veteran councilor who has been part of the monitoring of the use of these and surprisingly these guys have never bothered to direct more funds to sewer and water reticulation but instead they have been in charge at City of Harare for the past years and in all these years they have approved the hefty salaries for the directors…..

  22. Gomba wataurisa, iiii uchawira mugomba manjemanje

  23. Gomba wataurisa, iiii uchawira mugomba manjemanje

  24. The ghosts of those who died in the cholera epidemic when the 94 year old was rulling is back to haunt them – that was the time Botswana stepped in while the 94 year old and this Minister of Health who has now been arrested was holding the position until now and everyone turned a blind eye to it and they have a nerve to charter a plane for the 94 year olds wife who can afford to charter her own plane with all the money she has looted

  25. Ayewaa, gomba idhooo…….tiiiii. What were the councillors promising their subjects during election campaigns?. what is the role of city fathers? do we need local government at this rate if even the mayor is there to further his party’s political agenda at the expense of residents. He is making us see that Manynyeni was by far very good at his job. Council affairs should be answerable by the council. the board is made upf of councillors as non executives and management as executives. Lets not run away here. Thats why council budget is proposed by council not central government. Gomba muka!!!!

  26. KEEP IT UP MAYOR GOMBA. IF IT MEANS TO DIE TELLING THE TRUTH, LET IT BE. HARARE AND OTHER MUNICIPALITIES ALL THESE PAST YRS COLLECTED THEIR REVENUE BUT CHOMBO, THE ONLY LOCAL GOVT MIN WHO HAS BEEN AT THE HELM FOR MANY YRS, DESTROYED THE COUNCILS. RIGHT NOW, THERE ARE VENDORS FLOODING HARARE. WHO IS TO BLAME? ITS ZANU GOVT. WHY? BECOZ THEY PROMISED VOTERS THAT 2 MILLION JOBS WERE TO BE CREATED. WHERE ARE THE JOBS NOW??? ROADS ARE RESEMBLING GULLEYS WHILE ZINARA INSTEAD OF COUNCIL WAS GIVEN THE MANDATE AND POWERS TO COLLECT ALL THE MONIES LEAVING THE MUNICIPALITY WITHOUT MONEY TO REFURBISH THE ROADS. MAJORITY OF CITY RESIDENTS ARE INHALING DUST EVERYDAY AND ZINARA AND ZANU ARE TO BLAME.

  27. Mr Mayor you missed the point. What is important now is to find the way how best Cholera can be controlled. Look around our streets, I mean in locations, piles of garbage that has not been collected for months. It is the duty of the council to collect that garbage. Sewer affluent is flowing direct to Chivero, so as council need to work on that. We need the council and government to work together to fight against the outbreak. Kunzvi and Musami Dams are long plans so at this juncture, lets not loose focus and find ways to contain cholera.Council should attend to burst sewer pipes and water leakages. Council has failed to repair these leakages and burst sewer pipes in varies areas. Lets work together as a team to fight the cholera and reclaim our city to be Sunshine of yesteryear.

  28. The Mayor is very correct. The issue lies with failure of the government central planning to expand infrastructure in keeping with the growing population over the years. Water supply to the city should have been augmented by other sources beyond lake Chivero and the archaic Morton Jaffray water works. By now Kunzvi dam and others should have been long built.

  29. Comment…Zvekugodorana hazvina chazvinobatsira Jacob Gomba arikutaurawo izvi ZBCTV 20:00 news yataurawo izvo. Apa parikudiwa rubatsiro kwete zvekunongedzana. VaJuly Moyo neGurukota reutano heyo nyaya. Vanhuwe ngatizive zvekutaura nekuwongorora chikonzero chaita musoro uteme, uye musana ubande. Ndozvogadziriskwa, vanhu vasaramba vachifa.

  30. Comment…
    kanzuru ne hurumunde work together not trying to show the vad part of each other

    solve the problem then .

    clash later after the problem has been solved tts enough

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