BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
Harare mayor Jacob Mafume has claimed that the deplorable service delivery in the capital was a result of having a ceremonial mayor who is constantly stripped of power.
Mafume said elected representatives were not being given the chance to run the affairs of the local authority.
Speaking during a debate on water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Zimbabwe’s urban centres and its coverage in the media, Mafume said there was need for an executive mayor to make decisions on critical matters.
Mafume bounced back last week following his suspension last December on allegations of criminal abuse of office relating to improper allocation of residential stands.
“The City of Harare is the only one being run by a ceremonial mayor and people do not seem to care,” Mafume said.
He said this scenario negatively affected service delivery.
Harare has been facing water challenges for the past two decades, exposing millions of residents to waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera.
In 2000, cholera killed over 4 000 people and infected 100 000 more. This, according to some human rights organisations, was due to unavailability of water in Harare’s high-density suburbs where broken sewage pipes were a common sight.
To date, residents have little access to potable water and sanitation services and often resort to drinking water from shallow, unprotected wells.
Harare produces 350 to 400 megalitres (ML) of water against a daily demand of 1200ML. The ruling Zanu PF blames the opposition which runs the city for poor service delivery, an allegation the MDC Alliance denies. The opposition claims political interference from the Zanu PF government was the cause of the collapse in service delivery.
Speaking on the same platform, Hardlife Mudzingwa of the Community Water Alliance said the media had a critical role to play in covering issues around WASH which are quite diverse.
“The coverage is largely reactive. Media needs capacity-building in order to be able to interrogate some issues like water governance which is critical in building momentum,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Alice Kuvheya said the water and service delivery crisis in Chitungwiza had reached alarming levels.
“We have a crisis and our lives are at risk. We took the government to court last year but nothing has been done,” she said. Burst sewage pipes are a common sight in Chitungwiza.
Also speaking on the water crisis, Harare Residents Trust’s Precious Shumba accused council authorities of poor response to critical issues.
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