Blame game doesn't solve cholera crisis

HARARE - The cholera outbreak in Harare and its devastating effects which have killed innocent lives and left thousands needing treatment, are a painful reminder to every Zimbabwean of the serious problems confronting our beautiful country.

It is sad that lives continue to be lost to medieval diseases such as cholera when we are living in modern times.

As renowned playwright William Shakespeare writes: “What’s done cannot be undone”, Zimbabweans must stop the blame game and deal constructively with this epidemic and avoid outbreaks of other infectious diseases by coming together — irrespective of political or religious affiliation — because the cholera problem has affected us as a collective.

The biggest lesson to emerge from this crisis is that we didn’t learn from the 2008 situation when over 4 000 people died from the same disease — which then president Robert Mugabe administration declared a national emergency.

Today’s disaster is neither an MDC-run Harare City Council nor a President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s problem.

The cholera outbreak is a sad but timely reminder to both local authorities and government to prioritise people at the expense of profligacy and misplaced priorities.

For Mnangagwa, the cholera outbreak serves to remind him and his stone-broke government to find ways of rehabilitating the old sewer and water reticulation systems which, during the short-lived 2009 inclusive government, weren’t given further attention after Unicef poured in $17 million.

Mnangagwa and his government must find ways of complementing councils towards the sewer and water rehabilitation projects as the resurgence of cholera clearly underlines the sorry state of the current infrastructure.

What is causing cholera is the antiquated piping system which is no longer compatible with the obtaining population densities hence the recurring burst sewer pipes.

On their part, local authorities need to curb their appetite for funding huge salaries at the expense of service delivery.

A long-standing Cabinet directive of 30:70 ratio which stipulates that local authorities should spend 30 percent of their revenues on salaries and the remainder on service delivery, must be enforced.

And more importantly, government should allow the local authorities to execute their plans without interference.

It is fair to say previous governments have stymied developments in most cities and towns run by opposition councils either by suspending councillors or replacing them with useless commissions.

Mnangagwa needs to show that he doesn’t belong in the past while councils must inspire confidence.

That way Zimbabwe can emerge from the clutches of medieval diseases such as cholera.

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