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'Not My Job!' declares Kariba Mayor

by Laiton Kandawire | Patsaka-Nyaminyami CR Environment and Tourism Series
19 Jun 2019 at 22:38hrs | Views
Residents of Beira Blocks, a section of Mahombekombe suburb, falling under Ward 5, have resorted to using the bush to relieve themselves. The only toilet servicing this bustling community is in a state of disrepair due to negligence on the part of authorities. This, in turn, has led to the defiling of the environment, raising fears of a cholera outbreak in the tourist resort. After repeatedly appealing to authorities to rectify the matter and getting no response, the affected residents approached a local media house to help them highlight the inhuman conditions under which they live. When the Patsaka-Nyaminyami Community Radio (PNCR hereafter) took up the story, the town was aghast with the deplorable state of affairs the residents are enduring.

Responding to the media story, Kariba Mayor, Councillor George Masendu (Ward 4) felt the highlights were an attack on his august office and the fellow councillor as the infrastructure is owned and supposedly maintained by the government Public works department. He responded by saying, "You are throwing spears to the wrong office." as, according to him, the Ward 5 Councillor didn't have to do anything after being approached by residents as his 'council' is not 'responsible' and should not be pestered. His worship further advised residents of the affected area to; "engage public works (instead) than to say councillor did nothing".

This riled some residents who felt the Mayor was out of touch with his office's responsibilities regards provision of services to all residents of the area under his jurisdiction. Currently all the 3 showers are gushing treated water 24 hours a day, there is no roof and flushing systems are not working and cannot be used since showers will also be running. There are no functional taps. It should concern a responsible council that treated water is going to waste at a time when the suburbs of Baobab Ridge, Batonga and Nyamhunga are in calamitous need of water.

One leader had to try to assist by proffering how we could assist and avoid promoting what could lead to any disease outbreak, "As leaders, people voted for us to deliver services in council. If we freeze all trips out of Harare for a month and channel the money to this project we can do it". Another community leader Mr Kudakwashe Mandishona had to neutralise the discussions as people had expressed disappointments labelling the Mayor as having more interests only on personal benefits (There is a standing resolution made by the council to buy a SUV for the Mayor.) by highlighting; "Let's not try to attack the person for benefits that accrue to him. He didn't craft the law that gave the benefits. Rather let's discuss the issue at hand and help him see how he can best assist in the issue. We need to agree that Mayor Masendu is new in the mayoral office and also as a councillor. He needs our help. However, there is no way he cannot defend himself if we attack him daily. I feel it's unfair". Residents Associations spokespeople felt that the mayor and his team could have visited the affected area before commenting to assess the situation and be with his people for quick rectification of any service delivery issues.

The Municipality of Kariba which has been under the MDC leadership for more than three terms also adopted a controversial Supplementary Budget, in which it doubled charges for most of its services, including water. Since time immemorial, the town has never received any objection to rates increase but this time saw more than hundreds of residents launching objections which the city fathers and mothers thrown out. Water is not reaching every resident who desires it with daily repairs and maintenance works reported out of the old system that has been servicing the town since the sixties and nineties.
Kariba is now battling under water and electricity shortages, taking glamour off the resort town that used to pride itself of offering seamless services on both fronts.

Kariba town has 9 wards, 8 of which are in MDC hands, whilst ZANU PF has 1 seat on the council and the call for action to end bush toilet usage this age remains.

Laiton is a Kariba based jurno who is currently writing environmental and tourism series under Patsaka Nyaminyami Community Radio
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Source - Laiton Kandawire