We should not create a false beauty

MARONDERA - Two days before Marondera was to be the venue for the 90th birthday of President Mugabe a veritable frenzy of activity got underway in the town.

Unfortunately for the residents of Marondera, the focus of attention was almost exclush the town and at Rudhaka Stadium.

Head-high grass along the highway which had reduced visibility to a minimum and made treacherous conditions for motorists was suddenly mowed.

People were suddenly deployed to pick up litter along the main road and even the usually invisible EMA (Environmental Management Agency) appeared in the public view.

Hanging dustbins with the words “Donated by your local MP” painted on them, which had been overflowing for weeks ,were suddenly emptied and new bins appeared in prominent locations around town which ironically included outside the municipality

offices and the Zanu PF Headquarters. Road maintenance crews suddenly appeared to attend to treacherous potholes on the highway which motorists had been dodging for weeks.

It only took a few hours for scores of potholes to be filled, compacted and covered with tar, leaving us angry that such an easy job couldn’t have been done before and why it took the visit of a VIP to get the job done.

Zesa joined the frenzied window dressing. Despite taking many days at a time to attend to faults around the town after years of negligible maintenance, suddenly new poles were erected and overhead electricity cables illuminated Rudhaka Stadium.

The biggest insult of all to the residents of Marondera came with the arrival of huge green water tanks which were placed around Rudhaka Stadium and according to ZBC provided watering points for people attending the birthday party.

This came just a fortnight after the town’s main water pipes had been flooded with black, sewage stinking liquid for over a week.

Municipal authorities would not answer any questions about the black sewage in our taps, directing all questions to the town engineer who said the reservoir was being ‘de-sludged.’ 

The engineer had no explanation as to why residents hadn’t been warned in advance; why the whole town’s water pipes had been contaminated or why the “sludge” couldn’t be let out at the base of the reservoir instead of into the pipes.

The town engineer finally said the black filth would continue for a week and only when he was specifically asked about the health risks, did he say the black liquid wasn’t for consumption. 

Meanwhile, two blocks away from Rudhaka Stadium the real face of Marondera was clearly visible for anyone who cared to see but there was little chance any of the VIP’s would dare detour off the main highway.

Roads so full of potholes and gullies that they have become unusable. Car wrecks and huge mounds of dumped litter tangled in head high grass in every open space.

The town’s main cemetery invisible in the tall grass, graves subsiding, fences gone, soil extractions and illegal cultivation within metres of headstones.

Wetlands drying up or already gone due to the uncontrolled arbitrary cultivation of protected areas; shallow open wells where residents collect water and do laundry on the numerous days every week when the taps are dry.   

When are we going to stop this ridiculous façade of pretentious window-dressing that accompanies the visits of members of government to our towns and cities?

Instead of letting our leaders see for themselves the deplorable state of affairs that ordinary citizens have to live in every day, we allow local leaders to perpetuate the absurd pretence that their constituents are living in clean, healthy, organised towns.

Who is fooling who?

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