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Cleanliness thrown out of the window

Gweru just happens to be the one city I fell completely in love with during my younger years as I constantly visited some very dear friends of mine. It was the one place that always managed to bring me an overwhelming sense of peace, a feeling I would want to attribute to the cute set-up in an evidently well-run town filled with so much positive energy. That was years ago.


2010 presented me with a rather different Gweru, one that is engulfed in so much filth I could have sworn I was in a different town altogether. And come to think of it, Kwekwe wasn’t quite as neat as I have always known it to be either and neither is Mutare and Harare, but I would have to say Gweru tops, considering how neat the town used to be.

But just why is there so much litter lying around in our country? Is it because the city councils are not doing enough to correct the situation? Or is it that the law enforcers are being lenient or negligent of their duties?

Looking back, I would like to think that the hardships that the country went through (before the establishment of the coalition government finally brought a semblance of normality) had a lot to do with much of this uncaring attitude that a lot of Zimbabweans are currently exhibiting. In the rush to find ways to put food on their tables and take care of their families when the prevailing circumstances deemed this near-impossible, most of us simply stopped caring about those things that we would like to brush off as “little”, yet another misconception if you ask me because issues that ultimately have something to do with our health should never be considered “little”!

The issue of littering and the need to clean up the country is one that has already been overemphasized but sadly still remains a major concern, propelling us to keep talking about it, hopefully until everyone realises one simple fact: littering destroys the environment and highly endangers our health.

I know people would, more than anything, like to blame it all on the city councils for not providing enough litter bins and for not collecting refuse as often as they should. Whether or not the city councils are doing their job is a question that can best be answered by the rate-payer, but one thing for sure, the council can only do so much, the rest lies with us.

I can tell you that I walk along Kaguvi Street in Harare every morning during the week on my way to work and almost on all these days I pass along some elderly women clad in overalls and equipped with hard brooms cleaning up the streets. When I walk along the same street at lunch time however, there wouldn’t be much sign of any cleaning having gone on just a few hours earlier as the street would once again be infested with litter.
I really think it is about time we faced facts, Zimbabweans are serious litterbugs and unless something is soon done about this, the country will completely lose the little appeal that it has left. It is about time we once again instilled in ourselves, our families and associates a sense of cleanliness. It is about time we found the act of littering extremely embarrassing because it is an act that serves to portray you as one ignorant, negligent and uncaring person, traits that we should all try to shy away from. Even something as little as a bubblegum wrapping should be thrown in a litter bin as when left lying around it translates into filth and filth is not nice!

Have you ever noticed just how a dirty home attracts flies which cause a lot of diarrhoeal diseases that culminate in a lot of endless visits to the doctor’s? And good doctors tend to be expensive meaning many people may find themselves succumbing to the many diarrhoeal diseases. What this means is that dirt is rather costly, something that could well be avoided if we could all just come to appreciate the advantages of a clean environment. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all just make it a point to never let trash escape our cars or our homes?

But because we are always going to have people who simply refuse to see reason or are so hooked on their old ignorant ways, there might be need for the responsible authorities to put in place stiffer penalties. Many Zimbabweans do not even realise that littering carries a fine of US$20, mostly because most have littered so many times and gotten away with it. May be if the Zimbabwean police can be on a closer look out for offenders, it could also greatly help ease the problem.

The city councils indeed should do their job, after all people are sacrificing ridiculous amounts from their hard-earned money paying the rates; it would only be fair if those services could actually be offered. Furthermore, there is genuine need for more litter bins to be placed around towns, that way people would surely find it embarrassing to be seen littering when a bin is so close by.

We could also arrange or do more to encourage clean-up campaigns as these, besides cleaning up our surroundings, have the power to make people conscious of the dirt and the need to also make efforts to maintain the clean environment.

The litter in Zimbabwe is an eyesore and unless the situation is awarded due attention, things will only get worse and before we know it, our country will be rated among the dirtiest in the world (if it isn’t already). I truly hope that by the end of 2011 we will have made considerable strides towards reclaiming our status as a beautiful rainbow nation that we can be proud to be associated with. Let us all come together and say an emphatic NO to littering, it begins with you and me.

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