Civil society alert PM on water crisis

HARARE - Bulawayo’s deepening water crisis has seen more than a million people without the precious liquid and only getting supplies three times a week, devastating an already reeling local economy facing massive deindustrialisation.

For Zimbabwe’s nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), figuring out how best to help in such circumstances is a daunting task.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has a suggestion: first, help get a responsive, exclusive Zimbabwe government into office at the next polls.

Tsvangirai asked NGOs to help expand the Zimbabwean government’s capacity to respond to the challenge at a private conference with members of civil society in Bulawayo.

The meeting came just a week after the local authority asked residents to participate in a “big flush” concurrently at 7:30pm every Saturday evening so that human waste does not solidify in the city’s aging sewerage pipes.

It comes as the local authority races its connection to Mtshabezi Dam so as to avert the intensifying water crisis.

Phillan Zamchiya, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional coordinator said Tsvangirai met and briefed civil society at a meeting organised by the Christian Alliance and Bulawayo Agenda in the second city on the sidelines of the 13th MDC anniversary last weekend.

Civil society leaders reportedly drew the PM’s attention to the water crisis, now considered a critical disaster problem which needs urgent attention.

Civil society’s call to aid the ailing Bulawayo Province, where residents are getting water for only 72 hours a week, reflected the increasing concerns among aid workers who have proposed sinking more boreholes and getting more water bowsers to the people as a long-term solution is being sought.

“The Prime Minister responded to a number of quotidian concerns raised by civil society around water shortages, decay of NRZ (National Railways of Zimbabwe), dilapidated state of public roads and maternal health care,” Zamchiya said.

“In short, the Prime Minister promised to make a follow-up with relevant ministries in order to seek lasting solutions to the problems raised. As civil society we continue to urge the government to implement democratic and economic reforms to establish a salubrious environment for a competitive, free and fair election that will result in the instalment of a people’s government that can deal decisively and effectively with Zimbabwe’s crisis.”

The meeting provided a further indication that civil society is rethinking how national development assistance should be deployed.

The Prime Minister told civil society leaders that the inclusive government was now winding up its business in preparation for the general election.

He said civil society will be able to make comments and recommendations to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference but amendments to the Copac draft can only be effected by Parliament.

Tsvangirai told civil society leaders that the referendum will be held in November, which resonates with the position put forward by President Mugabe in his recent court application to have by-elections postponed.

The Copac draft, Tsvangirai said was a “progressive document that should be supported by democrats.”

The PM told NGO leaders that government has not agreed on the specific date for general elections, although he prefers to have general elections in June 2013 in order to allow ample time to operationalise the “new constitution.” - Gift Phiri

Comments (1)

I am an obedient Bulawayo citizen to my council. I flushed AT 7.30 PM last saturday. The toilet went gadoink, gadoink instead of woooosh. No water. I only receive water on sundays from about 10 am to late that night. However, I will continue being obedient. Gadoink, gadoink; gadoink, gadoink. I only receive water once a week, not three times a week.

word writer - 3 October 2012

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