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Stop politicking, just act on cholera

Opinion & Analysis
IT appears our politicians don’t know when to stop playing politics and put the nation ahead of their desire for political power advantage, even with thousands of lives at stake.

IT appears our politicians don’t know when to stop playing politics and put the nation ahead of their desire for political power advantage, even with thousands of lives at stake.

The cholera outbreak is one such point in case where Zanu PF and MDC are playing ping pong while 25 lives have been lost, and nearly 4 000 are at risk in the largest outbreak of cholera since 2008. We find it strange that the politicians are finding time to fiddle while Rome burns.

What Zimbabwe wants to hear is not who is responsible for the outbreak, but rather how it can be contained and what is being done to ensure that it does not happen again.

It is not a secret that the sewer and water reticulation in Harare — for most of local authorities for that matter — is antiquated and needs a major overhaul if global standards that guarantee health for citizens are to be met.

This massive work cannot be left in the hands of local government alone.

The Harare water works, which are supposed to supply clean and potable water to residents of Greater Harare, are stretched to capacity, meaning massive capital has to be injected to upgrade the system in light of the population explosion the city has experienced in the past 20 years.

No amount of politicking will wish these problems away, central government cannot abrogate its duties and responsibilities to a local government for political gain.

Harare, as the capital, is the window to the country and the buck stops with the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to ensure that taxes collected from citizens are used for infrastructure development that contributes to their health and safety.

We have seen how Local Government ministers have issued numerous directives to councils, freezing employment, firing and hiring town clerks and other top management at will, yet when there is a disaster, the same central government wants to wash off its hands.

Citizens are aware of the role which Zanu PF through then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo brought councils to their knees when they wrote off millions in debts owed to the local authorities for want of political power.

Recently, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga made headlines when he encouraged civil disobedience, calling on residents not to pay rates and tariffs to council, creating and aiding problems for a council whose budget is already stretched.

This has to stop, government should play its role, it has to fund infrastructure development and upgrade health delivery systems to make drugs affordable and accessible. This is the role of any government, instead of playing the blame game.

Councils should ensure that resources collected are not misused and end up in the pockets of a few greedy managers at town house.

How do we have council executives driving $150 000 Range Rover vehicles, staying in plush suburbs, while basic tools for attending to sewer blockages are not available?

Can the mayor of Harare sleep well at night when money paid for service delivery is spent on foreign travel by his executives?

Both Zanu PF and MDC should just shut up and solve this problem once and for all, it’s a national and international embarrassment that people die of cholera in this day and age, and no sane person should stand with a straight face blaming the other.

All we need is action.