Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
More than 500 people died from water-borne diseases last year alone, a development Government has blamed on MDC-T-run local authorities for their failure to provide safe water and proper sanitation facilities.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the majority of MDC-T-run councils were engaged in corrupt activities instead of focusing on service delivery, such as providing clean water, repairing burst sewage pipes and refuse collection.
This came amid allegations that MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s eldest son, Edwin, was being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for involvement in a “dodgy” tender for the supply of water chemicals to the City of Harare running into millions of dollars.
Water-borne diseases, among them diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentery and cholera, are caused by drinking contaminated.
Statistics contained in the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s weekly report on Epidemic–Prone Diseases, Deaths and Public Health Events for the week ending December 25, 2016, reveal that water borne diseases are a major cause for concern.
According to the weekly report, since last year, 435 people died from common diarrhoea, 84 from dysentery, typhoid 9 and cholera claimed one person. The total number of people who have died from the water-borne diseases since last year is 529.
Although figures were not provided for the comparative 2015 period, health observers said the 2016 figures were worrisome, calling on relevant Government departments to act on respective local authorities.
“Total diarrhoea cases reported this week (week ending December 25, 2016) are 6 183 cases and 10 deaths,” reads the report.
“Of the reported cases, 2 838 (45.9 percent) and one death were from the under five years of age. The deaths were reported in Kwekwe district in Midlands province (3), Chipinge district in Manicaland province (1), Mpilo Central Hospital (2) and Harare Central Hospital (4).
“The provinces which reported the highest numbers of diarrhoea cases are Mashonaland East (1 015) and Manicaland (957). The cumulative figures for diarrhoea cases are 513 726 and 414 deaths.”
It is understood that the majority of casualties were in urban areas particularly in Harare where the MDC-T dominated council is failing to provide basic services.
Dysentery claimed 81 lives out of 41 890 cases that were reported in 2016, while typhoid had 2 225 suspected cases, of which 85 were confirmed and eight deaths were recorded.
Minister Kasukuwere said the major problem were MDC-T councillors who focused on satisfying their selfish needs instead of service delivery.
“Quite clearly, we have councillors who are self-centred, who think that they must get per diem than service delivery,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
“They have been keen on allocating themselves stands, getting the best piece of land at the expense of service delivery.”
Minister Kasukuwere has suspended several MDC-T councillors in various cities and towns on allegations of corruption, and at the same time, reversed some of the land deals that these councillors have been involved in.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu blamed residents for “not paying rates” and Minister Kasukuwere for “interfering” in the running of local authorities.
“Urban local authorities have got a very dwindling financial base because the majority of residents are not paying their rates and other supplementary charges,” said Mr Gutu.
“Coupled with this, the Minister of Local Government is always sabotaging all the good and sustainable workplans in the major cities. The national road authority, Zinara, is not remitting any meaningful amounts of money from the money that is collected from motor vehicle licences,” he said.
“For instance, the City of Harare was given a paltry amount of $1 million by Zinara in 2016 to repair and maintain roads in a situation where Zinara had collected more than $10 million for motor vehicle licenses in the same year.
“How then do you expect MDC-run councils to have money for refuse removal and water reticulation?”