Service delivery scare in Chitungwiza

Over the last decade, the Chitungwiza Municipality has been failing to meet the expectations of the residents. This has been largely because, like every other facet of the country, the Municipality was seriously affected by economic challenges. During these challenging times Municipalities elicited sympathy by claiming that their hands were tied behind their backs by the limited fiscal space within which they had to manoeuvre.  However, with the advent of the multi-currency system, which ushered in relative economic stability, many residents are asking the City Fathers to come up with robust strategies to overhaul aged and dilapidated infrastructure and improve service delivery in Chitungwiza. Evidently, the defence of an unstable currency or limited fiscal space is no longer sustainable and naturally service delivery is expected to improve yet authorities remain sitting on their laurels and forgetting to upgrade the infrastructure in line with an ever-expanding population.

Raw sewage, water cuts, dilapidated  roads, burst water and sewer pipes, rundown buildings, blocked public toilets, neglected community facilities and non-functioning street lights are all  part of the Chitungwiza challenge which the local authority has failed to deal with. The stench of sewage hangs over parts of Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe's third largest and fastest growing satellite town. Its sewerage facilities are failing to cope with rapid population growth, spurred by rural-urban migration over the years. In 1992, it was home to 500,000 people. At the last census in 2002, nearly 900,000 lived there.

Chitungwiza's sewerage treatment plant has been handling much more waste than the maximum 18 million litres a day it was designed for. The raw sewage is now overflowing into the Manyame and Nyatsime Rivers which are all tributaries of Lake Chivero, the main source of water for the Chitungwiza and Harare.

In an interview with the Crisis Report team. Evidence Mpofu a resident of Chitungwiza for more than a decade lamented that the state of service delivery in Chitungwiza,

"Chitungwiza has become a hell house to us the residence. Nothing is being done to improve the situation. Day in day out, we have to endure the stench of sewage which hangs over the area. There is no notification of water cuts and the recently appointed Chitungwiza Municipality Rescuscitation team  is doing nothing to improve the situation. We need a permanent Municipality which is there to help us and not destroy us. We do not want to see a repeat of cholera outbreaks that saw many lose their lives. €

The above situation has raised fears of another cholera epidemic similar to the 2008-2009 one which resulted in an estimated death toll of about 4 232 people out of the 98 531 reported cases. The Municipality officials have become more concerned with lining their pockets than providing services to the people.   During the Godfrey Tanyanyiwa era the former Town Clerk of the Municipality, hundreds of pipes which were meant for repairing the sewer system were stolen and have not been recovered up to now. The Municipality is now more concerned with giving huge salaries to top management while residents are getting a raw deal in terms of service delivery.

The people of Chitungwiza have suffered tremendously because of mismanagement and corruption of the local Municipality. Normality should be restored to the people     of Chitungwiza so that they can start to experience a better standard of living where there is clean water, electricity and better sewerage infrastructure. Mr Admire Zaya, a representative of the Chitungwiza Progressive Residence Association in his comment said:

"As residents of Chitungwiza we want the team led by Acting Chitungwiza Town Clerk, Fungai Mbedza, to end its tenure such that we have a permanent Municipality which advocates for a better lifestyle for the people of Chitungwiza as there is a serious need for return of normal provision of clean water, collection of refuse, proper chlorination of water and the immediate repair of busted sewage pipes. €

The state of the service delivery system in Chitungwiza is however similar to what is happening in most of the residential areas across Zimbabwe. There is need for the Municipalities to have an appreciation of the right to livelihood and healthy living conditions. Municipalities must be reminded giving communities better services is the best way to give people the right to life. It is grossly dehumanising and extremely degrading to expose rate-paying residents to calamitous living conditions in the manner in which Chitungwiza residents are exposed. A robust and expedient approach is needed to address the crises highlighted herein.

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