REVELATIONS that government will procure a month’s supply of water purification chemicals for the Harare City Council (HCC) is very good news indeed.
This is refreshing news, which must be commended given the State’s previous uncaring attitude regarding the dire state of water supply in the capital city. For years, HCC has struggled to purify water from its major raw water supply dam, Lake Chivero, owing to the rising cost of chemicals required.
While government’s decision is most welcome, we, however, wish to point out that this is a short-term measure which does not offer a sustainable solution to the water crisis facing Harare.
Announcing the government assistance to HCC, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Anxious Masuka told the media that the long-term solution to Harare’s water crisis lies in developing new sources of water and to that effect government is constructing the Kunzvi and Musami dams.
This is all very well and good, but we believe that Lake Chivero must also urgently be saved from complete demise, otherwise its fate will also befall the new proposed dams.
We have heard that HCC is currently using a cocktail of more than 14 chemicals to make Lake Chivero’s water suitable for human consumption. And why has the situation reached this stage?
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This is all to do with the rampant lawlessness which has befallen the capital city where national laws and local authority by-laws are violated willy-nilly. Harare is now being forced to use this large cocktail of chemicals because springs, streams and rivers supplying Lake Chivero are no longer properly functioning in terms of naturally purifying the raw water coming into the lake.
For decades, government has turned a blind eye to the wanton destruction of Harare’s wetlands which are critical in the city’s water supply matrix. Government’s Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has proved to be one very big toothless bulldog, incapable of even producing a woof to scare off perpetrators of environmental degradation.
Harare is entirely located on a dambo, a network of complex shallow wetlands, which unfortunately have been so violated that Lake Chivero is now one massive sewer pond. Unrestricted sewerage flows into Lake Chivero’s tributaries, illegal concrete structures on wetlands and chaotic urban agriculture have all conspired to destroy the capital city’s water supply sources.
If Ema is worth its salt, a bark by this organisation would have brought sanity to the city’s environs many years ago. Sadly, Ema has been so meek that unruly citizens have taken advantage to run roughshod across the city.
If government is serious about creating a lasting solution to not only Harare’s water supply, but to all the country’s urban settlements, it must crack the whip on such key institutions as Ema and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to keep them on their toes.
What is Zacc’s role in all this?
Arguably, there must be something happening at Ema which should warrant Zacc’s visit because settlements cannot mushroom and flourish on wetlands without Ema raising the red flag to stop them if it knows the long-term adverse effects of these developments. It is highly probable that corruption is decimating Harare’s wetlands as unscrupulous land developers buy their way onto the fragile ecosystems.