Politics still the problem

Life in Zimbabwe is still very tough for the majority of people. The late start to the rainy season and the slow pace of economic recovery have put more pressure on struggling municipalities to meet the needs of the people. Many are forced to pay for water, or seek out boreholes sunk by NGOs as far back as the 1980s. Even those lucky enough to have access to boreholes are starting to worry, as the water looks likely to dry up soon.

All indications show, however, that the country should experience normal or above average rainfall this season, and, together with efforts by councils to access clean water, there is hope that the drought will soon be over. Projects to address water problems, such as the plan in Ruwa to draw water from Nora Dam and the pipeline being constructed in Bulawayo, are examples of the measures being put in place by councils countrywide to avert a crisis.

UNICEF is in the process of handing over the responsibility of urban water treatment to local authorities. Since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009, many cities have been assisted by UNICEF to obtain the necessary chemicals to ensure access to safe drinking water. This scheme was intended to give municipalities time to build up capacity to manage the water purification on their own.

But with many local councils still severely under-resourced, and economic recovery much slower than anticipated because of Zanu (PF)’s intransigence, it is unlikely that many will yet be able to shoulder the responsibility. We call on UNICEF to reconsider their decision to pull out at such a crucial time. There is no way that councils can afford to purchase the necessary chemicals and equipment, and the lives of Zimbabweans will be put at risk.

The projection by the World Food Programme that one million people will be unable to meet their basic food needs over the next few months only compounds things. Farmers who planted crops this month have been forced to abandon their fields due to lack of rainfall, and some have abandoned farming altogether because they cannot access inputs for political reasons. Very few commercial farms are still productive, and those that are have had their capacity massively reduced – again because of political interference. The politicization of farming inputs and food handouts needs to be monitored at grassroots level.

The audit into the use of money provided under the Constituency Development Fund is a step in the right direction for greater accountability for MPs. They are the ones tasked with the responsibility of seeing that money is channelled into the areas of greatest need. It is criminal that some MPs have squandered the money on things like personal vehicles when people are walking great distances for water and, in some areas, skipping meals. If MPs are not prioritising the health and safety of the people over their own personal shopping needs, they need to be exposed and disciplined by the parties they represent.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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