Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
City of Harare’s failure to supply clean water to residents despite Government support is exposing residents to water-borne diseases.
People living in high-density suburbs have been forced to resort to unsafe wells to beat the water shortages.
Others are now buying water from bulk suppliers.
Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Senator Oliver Chidawu yesterday told journalists that there is a shortage of potable water in the capital even after Government tabled a lucrative deal for alternative water treatment solutions.
There are fears that Harare City Council could be abusing funds provided by the Government, or has no idea of improving the dire situation.
Minister Chidawu took a swipe at Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango for failing to run the affairs of the city, accusing him of lacking accountability.
“As we are all aware, the Harare City Council under the stewardship of the current town clerk has failed to provide water to residents for the better part of two years,” said Minister Chidawu.
“It is a cause for concern as it has led to a serious deterioration in the standards of living of our residents.
“Harare residents have of late, also been forced to stretch their disposable incomes by purchasing water from private suppliers in addition to paying water rates to the city council. Some have been forced to obtain water for daily use from potentially unsafe wells and others sources.”
Minister Chidawu said it was not enough for council to call for the declaration of the water situation in Harare as “a disaster” by the Government when the city fathers were not taking concrete steps to avert the water crisis.
“For instance, cutting out the middlemen in the provision of water supply chemicals at inflated prices who procure the same from South Africa and generally treating the current situation with the urgency that it deserves.
“Notably, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works Cde July Moyo recently directed council to procure water treatment chemicals from Chemplex Private Limited, a local and Government-owned entity in order to save foreign currency,” he said.
According to a letter seen by The Herald signed by Eng Chisango on June 7, council indicated that the water deal was ready.
However, taps have remained dry.
“On May 14, 2019 the Environment Management Committee resolved that an expression of interest be flighted to allow more companies to participate and provide best solutions to council. PRAZ (the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) in terms of section 3 (7) of the PPDPA Act approved that the accounting officer shorten the bidding period from 15 days to seven days. The expression of interest bidding documents is ready and advertising for bids is to be in the next Government gazette,” read the letter.
In an interview, Eng Chisango rejected claims that he was incompetent.
He said Harare’s water challenges required a collective approach, which has seen Government intervention through provision of funds.
“When the Minister (Chidawu) assumed office, we took him through all the water processes to have an appreciation of our challenges. The blame cannot lie 100 percent on one person as our infrastructure is now dilapidated.
“However, as council we are actually grateful that Government has come on board as that is the only way for us to improve water supplies under such prevailing conditions.
“The commitment by Government has also seen President Mnangagwa’s intervention through availing of funds to Harare,” he said.
Minister Chidawu slammed some sections of the media for being used by politicians to further their personal interests, and possibly perpetuate the water crisis to achieve their political ends.
Government recently injected US$9,3 million for urgent works at Lake Manyame and Warren Control Pump Station in a bid to alleviate Harare’s water woes.
The idea is aimed at ensuring that Harare could source raw water from Manyame Dam, which require less chemicals than the algae infested Lake Chivero which demands a cocktail of chemicals to purify.
The intervention by Government was expected to see residents accessing potable water almost regularly, which would be a major departure from the present challenges.