Editor’s Memo

They charge but don’t deliver

Vincent Kahiya

TODAY is October 28 in the year of our Lord 2005. A long, long time ago, either at the end of July or the beg

inning of August, I submitted a chequebook application form at the Avondale branch of Bank No 3. I literally forgot about the application soon after. Things don’t move that fast anymore in this country.

About the end August or early September I recalled that once upon a time I had made an application for a chequebook which I still hadn’t received. Although our offices are at the other end of Kwame Nkrumah Avenue near Rotten Row, I opted to walk across town to Bank No 3’s Kurima House branch near Fourth Street.

There are many reasons for walking these days. First, it is a form of self-mortification as one looks at what has become of the fabled Sunshine City.

The other two reasons for walking are in fact more serious than the first.

One is that there isn’t much fuel for one to drive around town, what George Charamba would call a joyride. Second, Lady Makwavarara and fellow commissioners have hired thugs who make it their hobby to persecute and torment rather than serve Harare motorists and ratepayers who pay their hefty sinecures.

You leave your vehicle unattended, they clamp and tow it away within seconds and you must cough up anything up to $2,5 million to get it back. It’s a classic case of parking at the owner’s risk. But more on Sekesai Makwavarara later.

At Kurima House a nice lady at the counter advised me to go and check at their Pearl House branch in First Street. I quickly retraced my steps and in no time I was there. A dour-faced lady at the relevant counter made a cursory check among rows of apparently uncollected chequebooks. She told me the chequebook had been “posted”.

Unfortunately I didn’t ask “posted to where”? I have held the account for over 10 years and I always get my monthly statements posted to the office.

As you might have already guessed, dear reader, since that posting around August, I still do not have the said chequebook. It used to take about a week to process such an application. The sad consolation is that once one draws the cheque for groceries, there aren’t many more transactions to be done these days. You go to the ATM.

I know Sister Bongi will be furious with me for exposing her bank. But I would be more than pleased if she made a follow-up and brought the chequebook to our offices.

The reason I am writing this is because there are many people who are less fortunate and more desperate for better service than I am but have no means of venting their frustrations with the sickening level of service in this country.

Which leads me back to Town House where commission chair Sekesai Makwavarara wants to pass herself off for a Harare socialite rather than a council employee there to serve ratepayers.

This week she was in the news, hobnobbing with the high and mighty, including Vice-President Joice Mujuru, in leafy Gunhill. Yet her job demands that she be closer to the less privileged and the voiceless in Mabvuku and Mbare.

When, dear reader, did you last see a refuse removal truck in your area? When did you last receive uninterrupted water supply for a full day?

In most high-density suburbs raw sewage can be seen flowing freely through the yard, or children can be observed playing in the streets ankle-deep in sewage. Burst sewers go for weeks unattended until the system exhausts itself and dries up.

Mountains of refuse have gone uncollected for months. We are not in this case talking about the mountain range called Murambatsvina whose outcrops can be observed in all high-density residential areas since May. I am referring here to litter that ordinarily should be picked up once or twice a week. That has not happened since volcanic Murambatsvina erupted.

Before Lady Semesai found favour in Gina’s eye, we were all made to believe Elias Mudzuri and his MDC councillors were the problem.

Spontaneous demonstrations were sneakily organised at Town House. Now we have no Mudzuri, no water, and no demonstrations but all the refuse!

The argument often deployed for the advancement of women in society is that because of their maternal instincts, they are compassionate and more sensitive to the plight of fellow creatures. Anyone who visits most high-density areas in Zimbabwe’s major towns, or Tsiga Grounds and Ground No 5 in Mbare’s Joburg Lines, should quickly be disabused of that fallacy.

I can bet that when the Lady Mayor recently stood up for Herald and ZTV cameras at Mbare Musika as part of the clean-up, she didn’t even have the courage to turn her head and look at those helpless and voiceless women displaced by Operation Murambatsvina, living in squalor near the market.

Yet for this shoddy service they charge an arm and a leg. It’s a culture that permeates from the party.

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