We were not surprised, as we report elsewhere in today’s paper, when the City of Harare yesterday finally admitted that the water it is supplying to residents and ratepayers is unsafe and that residents ought to “exercise caution” when using it.
We had known all along that the water quality in Harare was somewhere between dodgy and dangerous outright as its physical features such as smell, taste, colour and turgidity all betrayed a product not fit for the purpose.
The dishonest council insisted the water was safe with its officials such as the Mayor, Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, at one time facetiously claiming that they all drink the same water from the taps. Most residents shunned tap water for consumption and looked for alternatives, with the next best option being the boreholes. They thought this way they would avoid further recriminations with council officials.
But water from boreholes in high-density suburbs has also been condemned as unsafe for human consumption, as tests confirmed that some boreholes were contaminated with the Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria which causes water-borne diseases and other health complications.
The admission and apology (which we are not going to accept) by His Worship Mayor Manyenyeni throws shocking light on the sad and dangerous state of affairs in Harare.
What should residents do now being caught in this situation? Have we reached a stage where we are all going to fall sick and die?
Residents should be worried sick about this impending disaster with no solution in sight, especially during this summer period when water borne disease such as cholera and typhoid tend to kill people by the dozen.
In fact, 10 rainy seasons ago 4 000 people died of cholera. The council should have known and planned better. Opposition councillors have run our major cities since their unheralded entry in 2000. They have nothing better to show for it except whine about political interference.
In fact, Harare council is no longer fit for the job because failing to provide water to residents or providing a poor, dangerous and toxic excuse for water is the worst performance a local authority can deliver in the modern era.
Mr Manyenyeni and his council should have resigned rather than offer that lame apology — which residents will not accept. They have failed to run the local authority because outside this criminal failure to deliver potable water, the council is also failing to collect garbage, control activities such as vending and the chaotic transport system.
This council has been a sick joke — especially when we hear officials sitting in air conditioned offices and sipping bottled water pontificating about Harare being a “World Class City by 2025”.
What a farce!
Harare City Council will need a new set of hands, and needs them soon to arrest the rot that has beset the capital for the past two decades. The opposition MDC-T, which controls Harare and other urban centres, has failed the electorate and it is there for everyone to see just how they have run down and degraded the standards of a city that was once known for its cleanliness.
Now it is a shell of its former self. In light of this stinking scandal, Government through the Local Government ministry, must dismiss the incompetent and corrupt council and replace it with a commission that has to turn around the fortunes of the city and arrest the rot that has set in thanks to MDC-T.
Government must move in fast to save lives. Yes, there is need for a “command water” programme like yesterday.