Zimbabwe’s urban areas have for the past years been operating without adequate water supplies among other basic necessities such as food and electricity. Most cities have been transformed into rural areas as hordes of men and women carrying buckets of water for use at home are now a common sight. The only available sources of water are unsafe dug up wells and burst water pipes. Water taps have become relics of urban yesteryear life. To see water coming out of taps is now seen as a privilege and favour not a basic human right. Seeing water coming out of the taps now induces an element of fear, anxiety and uncertainty as people wonder when this privilege will end, somewhat bestowed on them by some mysterious water god.
If the water comes in the middle of the night, one is jolted out of deep sleep by the purring sound of pressure that spurs one into filling up containers before the life saving liquid disappears into the night. Zimbabweans have been stripped bare of their rights by an insensitive government concerned only about its survival. People move around with buckets in their hands and cars while some go to work carrying towels and soap with the hope of finding somewhere to fetch water or bath. Despite poor delivery of such basic social services Zimbabweans have continued to endure the suffering without any signs of spontaneous protests.
The situation however, seems to get worse by the day. Budiriro, Glenview and surrounding residential areas in Harare have been hit by a cholera outbreak which the government seems to play down. One of my friends recently lost a brother in Budiriro because of cholera and in that neighbourhood about five people have died during the month of October 2008. These deaths are a result of negligence and disrespect for human life by the responsible authorities. Budiriro has been without water for more than six months and the deaths I have mentioned are only those I am aware of. I believe there are many people who have died without being mentioned under the pretense of not wanting to cause alarm and despondency in the City of Harare.
Harare residents have been left to their own means and devices and they await the day cholera will strike them. Their life is at the mercy of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the government who does not seem to be moved at all by this calamity.
ZINWA’s motto:-”Water is Life” is emblazoned on ZINWA vehicles and office walls. The irony is amazing. An institution mandated to facilitate accessibility of water is now infamous for denying people their right to life. People continue to die because they are being denied water, a basic human necessity.
How many people will have to die for ZINWA to act and provide people with safe water?