OVER 160 squatters at Ngozi Mine in Bulawayo had their only source of water turned off, which forced them to petition councillor Joyce Ndlovu to ensure provision of water as the community faces a health crisis.
BY SILAS NKALA
The squatters usually access water at the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) dumpsite offices whose taps were turned off, resulting in them failing to access the precious liquid.
The petition, which was signed by 160 squatters had two demands: That the BCC should open the water taps at their offices to allow people to access it, or install at least two communal taps at Ngozi Mine offices as a long-term measure.
The petition reads: “We understand that Bulawayo has a water shortage problem, but we note that as human beings within the city of Bulawayo, we also have human rights as stated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, including the right to water.
“As a long-term measure, BCC must put at least two communal taps within the Ngozi Mine area. Our promise is that should the council do the above, as a community through our committee, we shall be responsible to ensure that we collect the water in an organised and orderly manner, to make sure that there is no vandalism of council infrastructure or property in the area where we collect water and there are no acts of violence during collection of water.”
The petitioners claimed that the BCC was refusing them access to water because they were illegal settlers. They questioned why council failed to recognise their existence, yet during elections they are lured to vote at the Ngozi Mine polling station.
Gideon Tshuma, the chairperson of the Ngozi Mine dwellers, said there were more than 250 families affected by the closure of the water taps. He said as a result people were forced to fetch water from a stream that is contaminated with sewage, thereby posing a serious health risk to the community.
“We do not even have water bowsers to deliver the precious liquid to us. We used to rely on the council’s two taps at the offices there, but after the transfer of the officer who was there a new officer was deployed who then turned off the taps, accusing us of insulting her,” Tshuma said.
Another squatter, Maxwell Khumalo, said the problem was that the council was collecting people from areas around the city and dump them at Ngozi Mine. He said it was surprising that when the squatters asked for assistance, council ignored them.
“We appeal for water supply. Even if they give each family a bucket, it would be better because we are in a desperate situation,” Khumalo said.
Asked to comment on the matter, Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube said he was not aware of the petition.