BULAWAYO residents have appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and declare the city a water shortage area.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/SILAS NKALA
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in January wrote to the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement ministry requesting that the city be declared a water shortage area but has not received a response.
Residents said they had now gone for five days without water as supply dams were less than 31% full.
In appealing to Mnangagwa, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) cited section 77(a) of the Constitution that implores the State to take reasonable legislative and other measures within the limits of resources available to it to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to potable water.
“As BPRA, we wish to humbly appeal for the intervention of your esteemed office in the dire water situation faced by Bulawayo residents. The water crisis is so critical that if not properly arrested it might culminate in a calamity,” BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said in a letter dated April 27.
“It is against this background that as BPRA, we pray that your esteemed office proactively declares the city’s woes a national disaster.”
The letter was copied to the Lands and Local Government ministries as well as Bulawayo Metropolitan Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube and BCC.
Lands minister Perrance Shiri yesterday said his ministry had officially communicated with the local authority on the matter.
“Correspondence to that effect was sent to elected officials; the council and not the media. You can get in touch with them, and if there are any issues arising with regards our communication, the council is free to seek audience with the ministry,” he said.
However, town clerk Christopher Dube professed ignorance of the correspondence.
“I have not received any communication. However, I would not want to dismiss the claims from the ministry (that they responded to our request) because this might be because we are in a lockdown situation,” he said.
Mayor Solomon Mguni also said council was still awaiting the ministry’s response.
BPRA, however, said it was up to Mnangagwa to ensure the city is declared a water shortage area to save lives.
“We feel that if this situation is not promptly addressed, it may trigger undesirable outcomes, not to mention loss of precious human lives. We feel this is a critical matter that requires your urgent attention,” the BPRA co-ordinator added.
Bulawayo’s supply dams are all located in the drought-prone Matabeleland South province and quickly dry up due to low rainfall patterns.
Residents also called on council and government to de-silt the supply dams to increase their holding capacity.
BPRA chairperson Ambrose Sibindi said: “His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa, should declare this a national disaster and as BPRA we cannot fold our hands quietly, as such, we have written a letter to the Office of the President and Cabinet highlighting the urgency of the matter and that the government must act now.”
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “Zimbabwe National Water Authority must scoop the sand in the dams. We need a permanent solution, even the Zambezi Water Project must be completed.”
Meanwhile, in a notice to residents, Dube said BCC would be collecting refuse fortnightly in the eastern suburbs, instead of weekly, and thrice a week, instead of daily, in the central business district due to poor revenue inflows.
Dube said weekly community refuse removal programmes remained in place.