A UNITED Nations agency has saved the Zimbabwe government from further embarrassment after it emerged that five of the eleven boreholes at the University of Zimbabwe have been contaminated with human waste prompting authorities to delay opening the college twice in the same semester.
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Stan Mudenge blamed the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and the City Council for failing to address the serious water problems at the campus. Â
The university has been embroiled in the take over wrangle of water management between the two institutions.
Mudenge, however, said the university would soon operate after Unicef agreed to drill six boreholes.
“The problem at UZ is the question of running water. Zinwa is not able to provide water to UZ. Harare City Council is not able to provide water to UZ,” Mudenge told parliament recently. “The boreholes which we dug at the UZ, six of them are dry and five of them are full of water but that water is mixed with sewerage; it is contaminated water and cannot be used for drinking.”
The drilling of the now defunct boreholes was heralded last year when the then Deputy Minister of Water Resources Walter Mzembi promised to solve the dire water situation at the tertiary institution.
The water sources were sunk at the height of the cholera epidemic that killed thousands of people since last August.
Apart from acute water woes faced at the university, fears were rife that the anticipated re-opening could be further postponed due to staff resentment over salaries. The delays could again be further pushed by student activist groups which have threatened to boycott lectures in protest at what they termed exorbitant tuition fees in hard currency.
“We have approached Unicef and it has been kind enough, they are now going to drill six boreholes at the University of Zimbabwe as I speak right now,” Mudenge said. “We have got times and strategic places so that we have running water at the University of Zimbabwe and then we can unblock these sewerage systems which are now blocking halls of residence.
This way, I look forward in the next few weeks as soon as the boreholes are completed and the boreholes are working, the UZ can open within 2-3 weeks.”
Meanwhile, government has promised to retain 40% of university staff currently employed outside the borders while it also seeks to recruit 20% during the 100-day inclusive government action plan.
BY BERNARD MPOFU