OPPOSITION parties have expressed anger at the government’s refusal to declare Bulawayo a water shortage area to allow council to mobilise resources to bring lasting solutions to the city’s water woes.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
This came as it emerged yesterday that residents were now going for six days without the resource.
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in January wrote to the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement ministry requesting that it declares the city a water shortage area.
Residents are now going for six days without the precious liquid under the current water-shedding regime following the recent decommissioning of a third supply dam, Lower Ncema.
In response to a plea to declare the Bulawayo water situation a national disaster, President Emmerson Mnangagwa sought a second opinion from engineering consultants on the magnitude of the water crisis.
Government consultant Paul Kruger said the city had no water crisis, before laying blame on lack of technical capacity on the part of council to quench the thirst of residents.
Council has denied the charge.
“We are very disappointed in why the government is not declaring the city as a water shortage area, and worse still during this time when experts tell us to wash our hands constantly to prevent COVID-19 infection. The government has failed to bring the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) to life, and the least it can do is to declare the city a water crisis area to allow city fathers to go it alone,” Zapu secretary for social welfare, Midlred Mnkandla said.
MDC Alliance Bulawayo deputy spokesperson Mbuso Siso concurred: “It is clear to all and sundry that the politics of marginalisation, even to the extent of denying Bulawayo people water, is part of this government’s DNA. There is no political will to solve Bulawayo’s water crisis. They should admit failure in finding solutions to the water problems we face rather than question the capacity of council.”
In April, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the water crisis, citing section 77(a) of the Constitution that implores the State to take reasonable legislative and other measures within the limits of resources available to it to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to potable water.
“As BPRA, we wish to humbly appeal for the intervention of your esteemed office in the dire water situation faced by Bulawayo residents. The water crisis is so critical that if not properly arrested it might culminate in a calamity,” BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said in a letter dated April 27.
“It is against this background that as BPRA we pray that your esteemed office proactively declares the city’s woes a national disaster.”