THE city fathers are cooling off in Nyanga on a strategic retreat at a time when Harare is under siege from cholera, attributed to water shortages.

According to a NewsDay report yesterday, the Nyanga jaunt will cost the city ZWL$132 411 577,16 and US$12 000 for eight councillors, five executives, two drivers and one aide to attend the workshop.

The trip of shame comes as Harare has become a cholera hotspot, with the city’s health services director Prosper Chonzi last week saying “we need to help each other and stop the blame game”.

Of the 129 new cases recorded countrywide on Monday, Harare had 70 — Kuwadzana (35) and Glen View (35), underlining the depth of the crisis.

According to council spokesperson Stanley Gama, the city fathers hope to meet some of the key decision-makers of companies as it seeks to collect the ZWL$500 billion the local authority is owed by companies and parastatals.

The city fathers’ priorities are misplaced and no amount of spin doctoring will change that.

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Harare has been declared a cholera hotspot. The city is struggling to procure chemicals and repair burst water and sewage pipes.

Yet, authorities feel attending the Nyanga meeting will offer them an opportunity to engage “hard to get companies”.

That episode showed that the system is rotten to the core. Who will rein in employees that are extorting money from ratepayers for service provision like burst water and sewage pipe repairs when senior officials are milking the local authority through workshops?

It seems it’s now a free-for-all. The biggest losers in this are the residents who  religiously pay monthly rates for services that are non-existent.

The Nyanga junket is an indictment on the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) councillors that control Harare. As the “government in waiting”, residents expect better from opposition councillors.

For Harare, this trip of shame has exposed that the left hand is not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Chonzi last week admitted Harare’s failure to curb the spread of the waterborne disease.

“Yes, we do admit that we are guilty but we need to help each other and stop the blame game. We have a crisis on our hands like this; we need to put our heads together even with the central government and the nation at large,” Chonzi said.

The city fathers believe there is no crisis and see the retreat as an opportunity to engage the “hard to get companies”.

History will record these city fathers as a cabal of looters, angling for a seat on the gravy train.