There are many things that make one so angry. The major one, I find, is the tragedy of dereliction. Dereliction of duty by those we entrusted to run our towns, cities, local authorities, provinces and the nation and dereliction of creative imagination and strategic thinking in order to resolve problems facing residents across our country, have both established firm roots. Report by Davison S Maruziva
The advent of the Government of National Unity (GNU) gave us hope that perhaps for the first time in a decade, we would see leadership that is pro-people, leadership that is intent on bringing a difference to the lives of all citizens.
I want to focus on the water crisis in Bulawayo and pose the question: Apart from promises, what decisions have been taken and implemented firstly by the local authority in the city and secondly, by the legislators from Bulawayo, in particular and by their colleagues from Matabeleland in general?
In the past three years, the water crisis in Bulawayo has actually worsened, which is the exact opposite of what everyone expected with the assumption of office by the GNU.
I am going to propose some simple measures that the City of Bulawayo, the MPs from the town, the region and the international donor partners need to take as practical steps to bring water to Bulawayo in the shortest possible time.
The first is the rehabilitation of the boreholes drawing water from the Nyamandlovu aquifer. I am certain organisations such as Unicef and the World Health Organisation will see the value in participating in the rehabilitation of the boreholes, so that water is pumped into Bulawayo, than having to fire-fight an outbreak of water-related conditions.
Rehabilitation of the boreholes needs to run in tandem with the deployment of security details to guard boreholes in order to prevent them from being further vandalised.
Securing the boreholes will ensure regularity of clean water supplies to Bulawayo. It will also bring about modest employment to the people who will be engaged to provide 24-hour security to the boreholes through patrols.
Such a measure cannot be expensive if it is going to ensure regular clean water supplies and therefore elimination of water-borne diseases, compared to the cost involved in fighting a disease outbreak.
While work is being undertaken to get the boreholes supplying water to Bulawayo, the City Council’s Department of Works and the District Development Fund could scoop (dredge) the siltation from the main reservoirs supplying Bulawayo with water.
If the two authorities put their minds together and work 24 hours a day, they will be able to complete the rehabilitation of the reservoirs ahead of the onset of the rainy season. The council can sell the sand as a cost-recovery measure to offset the costs of dredging. dams do need servicing from time to time!
Another approach is to get all the MPs from Bulawayo and Matabeleland to contribute a portion of their constituency development funds for use in the finalisation of construction of the water pipeline linking Bulawayo’s main water supply reservoirs to Mtshabezi Dam. If the funding is made available promptly and the contractors get to work on a 24-hour basis, the crisis will be addressed in a relatively short space of time and the savings will be enormous.
What I find frustrating is that despite pronouncements by the elected officials, there is still a dearth of creativity in resolving problems confronting residents of Bulawayo. The deficit of creative leadership is not only peculiar to Bulawayo, it manifests itself throughout all urban areas, districts and provinces in Zimbabwe.
The last measure I would propose is the immediate establishment of think-tanks at local authority, at constituency and provincial levels. Their functions would be to help in directing development and anticipating workable responses to challenges their given areas of jurisdiction are likely to come up against.
The think-tanks could also advise on investment initiatives, infrastructure development, power generation, empowerment, service provision and retention of skilled human capital in order to guarantee development.
The remit of the think-tanks could cover such areas as re-industrialisation of Bulawayo, re-engineering of Zimbabwe’s industries, energy supplies, job creation, the agricultural sector, tourism and mining, just to cite specific examples.
Bulawayo has in its ambit, large pool of rate-payers, engineers, geologists, scientists, biologists, social scientists, thinkers, humanists, a science and technology university, a school of mines, which constitute a rich resource of human and material resources.
But the council has not undertaken an inventory of such people who are right on its doorstep. I submit it is the suffering rate-payers of Bulawayo, who will proffer the most amazing and practical solutions to the problems of Bulawayo.