“Zimbabweans must demand social service delivery” – Kanyenze

Zimbabweans must adopt a culture of standing up for their rights such as provision of water and electricity, among others, says economist Godfrey Kanyenze.

Most urban residential areas in Zimbabwe have been experiencing acute water and electricity rationing since early 2000 despite ratepayers meeting their monthly cash obligations to service providers.

According to Kanyenze, unlike other communities in the region, Zimbabweans suffer in silence, as both the central and local governments trample upon their rights to social amenities.

Speaking at a Policy Panel Dialogue Forum in Harare recently, Kanyenze said people should be taught that if arms of government do not provide for their basic needs, they have the right to get onto the streets and protest.

“We are educating relevant community groups to impart the knowledge to the citizenry in this regard,” said Kanyenze, who is also director for Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe.

He said South Africans, for example, go onto the street at the slightest infringement of their rights by powers that be.

Kanyenze said there was also need for communities to be knowledgeable of national ethos, that is, to be knowledgeable of which values to protect collectively.

Chairperson for Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association, Admire Zaya, echoed Kanyenze’s sentiments, saying residents have the right to protest over non-service delivery by their local authorities.

“Residents can express their dissatisfaction over poor service delivery through peaceful demonstrations and non-payment of rates among other options,” he said.

Zimbabweans have been forced to endure unsanitary conditions due to continued electricity and water rationing blamed on the country’s economic turmoil.

Big cities such as Bulawayo, Harare, and Chitungwiza have been hit hardest while other towns have not been spared the crisis.

Some local authorities blame the water crisis on power rationing by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

Power outages affect the pumping of water from the main supply sources.

Without complaints from residents, life in most urban areas has dropped to that in rural areas, where there is no running water or electricity.

In August 2008, critical water shortages were blamed for the cholera outbreak, which started in Chitungwiza before spreading to other provinces. Official estimates put the fatality rate near 800, while other sources claim some 3,000 people may have succumbed to the epidemic.

Power outages have eased following formation of the Unity Government in 2009, but there are fears that the situation will worsen if the coming Zanu (PF) government does not revise its economic and investor policies.

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