Chitungwiza residents to sue council

HARARE - Residents in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza are mulling suing their local authority for putting their lives at risk following the recent outbreak of cholera.

Since January, Zimbabwe has experienced three outbreaks of cholera in Harare, Chitungwiza and Chegutu.

Chitungwiza residents are not taking it lying low.

Through Chitungwiza and Manyame Residents Association (Camera), they are seeking legal advice with the hope of suing the municipality for negligence.

They are arguing that they have been exposed to waterborne diseases due to poor provision of services.

“The confirmed cases of cholera in Chitungwiza could have been avoided had there been adequate and clean water for residents,” Camera director, Marvellous Kumalo, said.

“The state of preparedness by the local municipality to deal with these unfortunate eventualities is also very limited. We will be approaching a legal team on the matter”.

Chitungwiza, ranked the third largest municipality in terms of its population, does not even have its own water source and relies on Harare for the service.

Kumalo believes the situation could have been better if the city had its own water source.

“Another problem also is the sewer system which is always bursting due to the pressures of an increased population on the town,” he said.

The last major cholera outbreak to hit Zimbabwe occurred in 2008, and more than 4 000 people died from the preventable disease.

Aid agencies and opposition politicians blamed the outbreak on poor public health policies, as well as the country’s dysfunctional water and sanitation infrastructure.

At the beginning of this year, the small town of Chegutu was hit by the infectious disease which left five people dead, with the country reported at the time to have been a victim of the contagion effects of a Zambian outbreak which forced the temporary closure of the border linking the two countries in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.

It is an extremely virulent disease that causes severe diarrhoea.

It remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of poverty and lack of social development.

It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show cholera symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water.

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