Zimbabwe: The Year Houses Were Built On Tarred Streets

When I thought I had witnessed enough drama courtesy of the City of Harare, a bigger surprise was to close the year 2021.

This time, the MDC Alliance (MDC-A) led council, slept on duty as a house was built on a tarred street.

Yes, this happened in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

As philanthropist Maya Angelou, rightfully puts it across, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Talk of service delivery, Harare residents can attest how they felt.

It was a gloomy experience.

Water woes, sewer bursts, uncollected refuse and loss of treated water was the order of the day.

Coming from the year 2020 where service delivery was poor with corruption being heavily unmasked at town house among MDC-A councillors working in cahoots with the management, 2021 has proved to be no better.

The only obvious visible change in 2021 was a 2 800 percent rate hike from the previous year, although without an increase in services offered.

The first five cubic litres of water for a high-density suburb was $575 compared to $20 the previous year, $565 for a once-a-week bin collection up from $28, a sewer charge of $250 for each toilet up from $41 and a minimum property tax of $345 up from $56.

Rates shot up, but service delivery was on a nose dive.

At the centre of all the decay was the massive corruption at Town House by MDC-A councillors working in cahoots with management.

While a bad mechanic always blames his tools, for Harare City Council the city fathers and managers had no one but themselves to blame.

Residents pinned hope for a new dawn, but alas under the watch of successive MDC councils, the sun has set, as anthills of garbage become a common sight, while council officials line their pockets in primitive fashion.

The local authority battled to collect refuse, with residents lucky to get collections at least once a month, resulting in more illegal dumpsites that posed a serious health and environmental hazard.

Mounds of uncollected garbage were the fad of the city.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) even slapped the Harare City Council with a $800 000 fine for failing to collect refuse regularly on designated points dotted in and around the Central Business District, but the situation remained the same.

Water is life!

But that doesn’t seem to apply to Harare City Council fathers who have presided over the ruin of the former Sunshine City that used to have gushing fountains, but is now dry, apart from water leakages that go for days on end without being fixed.

Most Harare suburbs spent the year with dry taps. The city’s major treatment plant, Morton Jaffray was always shut down, but without any translation to improvement of water supplies.

This left residents with no choice except to buy water from enterprising ‘water barons’ who would sell a 20-litre bucket for $5 for two buckets, before it increased to $10 a bucket midway the year.

Only several excuses were given among them shortage of chemicals and routine maintenance of treatment plants, but still taps remained dry.

Sadly, the city was losing more than 60 percent of its treated water.

The opposition led council was also not spared from the stands saga. Stands were illegally parcelled out rampantly on land reserved for social amenities.

A case in point is in Glen Norah where stands were parcelled out on tarred streets among them a house was erected in the middle of Mabanda Crescent opposite house number 664 in Glen Norah A.

Double allocations were also the order of the day.

The catch pits for the underground storm water drains in the city centre and some inner suburbs were always clogged with garbage, despite some efforts to clear them.

While the council officials were sometimes seen clearing storm water drains, the timing was a bit too late.

Demolitions on road servitudes and illegal markets were carried out in an attempt to bring sanity in the city.

A spate of demolitions was done at Mbudzi roundabout, Zindoga, Glenview, Siyaso among other areas.

However, the sanity was short lived, vendors resurfaced albeit more than before. It has been chaos all over again.

Leadership crisis also dominated the better part of the year. The city was on auto-pilot.

At some point the city was in a quandary when the only substantive head, health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi turned down an offer to be the acting town clerk, saying his department was overwhelmed with Covid-19 issues.

The mayoral office was always in disarray.

Harare City Council failed to convene a full council meeting on countless occasions due to the chaos surrounding the mayors, suspended councillor Jacob Mafume and councillor Musarurwa Mutizwa, who was acting one. MDC-A threw the city into a circus as Mafume claimed being the legitimate mayor despite his suspensions, with acting mayor Mutizwa remaining adamant that he will only leave the post once he received official communication from the Government.

It was just a bad year with even the much hyped Coca-Cola market failing to be completed in 2019 despite only a few touch ups required to finish off the project including flooring the stall and roofing less than five metal sheets.

The local authority seems to be reluctant to invest in the informal traders market, set to accommodate between 1 000 and 1 600 vendors, which was initially scheduled to open mid 2019 but remains incomplete with the council apportioning blame on lack of funds.

Had it not been the Government, roads would have remained in a deplorable state.

City roads were spruced up to world class standards under the Government’s Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2.


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