Monday, August 13, 2012


They are pointing the finger of blame directly at the government of Robert Mugabe for the on going typhoid and health crisis in Zimbabwe. 

SW Radio Africa tells us, "Typhoid has been reported in Zimbabwe since last year and the worst affected have been the densely populated areas around Harare's centre, including Kuwadzana and Mufakose. That outbreak threatened to spread across the country, after cases were confirmed in Bindura, Mashonaland Central and Norton and Zvimba in Mashonaland West."  Other outbreaks of typhoid, dysentery and other diseases caused by poor water conditions have been reported since 2008 in Harare and elsewhere.  While the dilapidated water and sanitation systems are again being blamed for another round of water-borne diseases, the government is clearly responsible for the deterioration of the water system.

Along with disease there have been repeated interruptions in water services to thousands.Some areas are going   for weeks without water. People cannot bathe, wash, or are forced to drink untreated water enabling the spread of disease such as typhoid and cholera.  Says the Standard, "Without adequate water supplies, residents will troop back to the unprotected shallow wells and drains, putting themselves at risk of contracting water-borne diseases. Who wants another cholera outbreak?"  

City governments have been of little help and are in reality just another part of the problem.

The Empire cares even less then its local satrap.

This does not have to be.  There is money to take care of some of this, yet the government seems to think a new shopping center is more important then the health of its citizens.  Business is more important then life.

 Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has attributed the typhoid outbreak to biological warfare and Western sanctions.  Few are buying this pass off.

SW Radio Africa reports:

Civil society groups have now banded together to pressure the higher levels
of government to do more, with a petition being handed Robert Mugabe, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the ministries of Local Government,
Water Resources Development and Health and Child Welfare. The petition is
also addressed to the Mayors of Harare and Chitungwiza.

“We, the undersigned citizens and represented Civil Society Organisations,
do hereby petition the Government of Zimbabwe through the relevant
ministries and local authorities to immediately set up effective strategies
to address the recurring problems of the outbreak of the typhoid fever and
cholera in Zimbabwe,” read part of the petition.

Addressing a press conference in Harare on Wednesday Abel Chikomo, the
Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, said they had so far
gathered 1,795 signatures from concerned Zimbabweans. The target is to
collect a million signatures.

Civil society has also demanded that the government immediately set up a
commission of inquiry to investigate the outbreaks throughout the country
and recommend solutions to end to the problem. The government is also being
pressured to come up with long term strategies that include a clear plan to
provide clean water, and to disperse necessary funds and technical

Me thinks it is going to take more than a petition.  

The following is from the Standard via All Africa.

Zimbabwe: Lack of Vision Has Led to Disease Outbreaks

Photo: IRIN
Residents walk past raw sewage.
It's sickening to know that people in Harare and Chitungwiza are once again eating their own faeces. This has resulted in another outbreak of typhoid which has seen the number of people affected rising to 220 in the past week alone with the addition of 30 more people in the capital and 26 others in its dormitory, Chitungwiza.

In most urban centres round the globe, water-borne diseases such typhoid and cholera have been eradicated completely. Water purification is no longer an issue in modern cities because the leadership of the municipalities and their national leaderships have gotten to know the importance of clean water and how it is vital to the survival not only of the people but also that of their own political careers.

Many analysts have looked into the reason why Zimbabwean cities find themselves in the situation they are in. Depending on which side of the political divide they come from, they blame foreigners on their situation while others blame the lack of vision on the part of those who have led the country since independence in 1980.

The establishment and those who thrive on its continuity blame the sanctions that have been imposed on the country by certain powerful countries saying the so-called sanctions have impacted negatively on the provision of social services such as water.

This might be a good scapegoat that might fool the general population most of the time, but the time seems to have come when it can no longer fool the people all the time.

A simple question may be asked: "What was the Zanu PF government's vision regarding the provision of water when it took over the reins of power 32 years ago?"

It was clear to everyone that the coming of independence would accelerate the rural urban drift, and that the country's industry would expand. Any government would have known that there would be imperatives that would go with this growth. As it turned out, the growth of the urban population, even in the early years of independence, was phenomenal; so was that of our manufacturing and mining industries. But there was no vision to match this growth especially regarding water infrastructure.

Shockingly, the water infrastructure we rely on today was put in place during the colonial days; in the 1950s to be specific.

For Harare, the implications are staggering; that was before the expansion of Chitungwiza from merely St Mary's township into the big sprawling town, now boasting a population of two million people, who make it the second largest municipality in the country, well ahead of the country's second city, Bulawayo.

That was also before the expansion of Norton and Ruwa. All in all, the infrastructure put together by the colonial regimes to cater for at most 200 000 people, is now forced to cater for nearly four million people living in Harare, Chitungwiza, Norton and Ruwa!

But the colonial regimes had a water master-plan not only for the whole nation but also for particular rural areas and urban settlements. This explains why even the Matabeleland-Zambezi water project was mooted as far back as 1912.

We have all heard of the Tokwe-Murkosi dam project that is still struggling to be completed and Harare's own Kunzwi dam project; these are projects that have been on the master-plan for donkey years. But what we have seen is the total lack of a complementary vision to complete these projects on the part of our leaders.

The projects only come when an election is around the corner, meaning they have become political footballs to be kicked around as a way to attract voters.

Now that we are eating our own dung and bearing the consequences, our political leadership is playing the blame game; sanctions did not stop our liberation government in the early days to do something about the inadequate water reticulation infrastructure; it did not stop our new government from constructing the dams that were already on the water master-plan. Our government did not see beyond the next election; it never had a long-term vision!

The long-term result has been that the water situation today should be declared a national disaster. Not one municipality is capable of providing adequate water to its citizens because most of the water treatment plants are old and need replacement, according to a recent study. To counter this our government has recommended that boreholes be sunk in areas affected by lack of potable water.

On the surface, that might be a viable option but it seems not to take into consideration the fact that underground water, like surface water, needs to be managed properly. One need only be reminded of the boreholes sunk at the University of Zimbabwe campus that are spewing contaminated water because the municipality has not managed the underground water suitably.

Interestingly, the fact that nothing is being done to improve the water infrastructure is not because there is no money floating around! It is not because the international community is not assisting as a result of sanctions; Unicef has been at the forefront of providing safe water and so have been all major countries of the European Union, who are most vilified for imposing sanctions!

One only has to look at where new investment from our friends in the East is going; it is going into the construction of shopping malls and hotels. Ironically, some of these hotels and shopping malls are being erected in areas that are at the heart of our water systems. This not only explains the shocking ignorance at the highest level of how water systems work, but also the absolute lack of vision among our governing elite.

The Gwebi River has its source at the wetland in Borrowdale where a US$100 million shopping mall is about to be constructed. The construction has got the nod from the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development and also that of the Mayor of Harare, two intellectuals who should know better.

A hotel has also been constructed on another wetland; the powers that be have chosen to ignore these projects' impact on the water system.

Ironically, the shopping malls and the hotels being erected will need loads of clean water every day which they will not get because they sit on that water and also because they have stopped the natural cleansing of the water, for that is exactly what wetlands do.

The number of white elephants rising up around the country shows the misplaced priorities that our government is pursuing. What is more important for Harare today, a shopping mall or an efficient sewerage system?

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