Cholera ravages Zimbabwe

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Cholera Outbreak in Harare
Cholera Outbreak in Harare

In the wake of a cholera outbreak that has savaged and ravaged Glen View and Budiriro suburbs in Harare, we have witnessed frantic efforts by both the government and private sector to combat root and branch the detrimental impacts of this deadly disease.

By Jethro Makumbe

It’s quite deplorable how some misguided elements in our public entities,  particularly the Harare City Council Procurement Department have, in fact, seen this calamitous mishap as a lucrative avenue to quench their insatiable appetites for money. Inflating the prices of medical products meant to save lives is not just an act of corruption, but an unforgivable sin against humanity.

We applaud the suspension of the unholy quadrupole alliance of Philimon Rwafa (procurement and stores officer), Smart Mhuka (buyer), Tawanda Marange (Cadex clerk) and Tafadzwa Reza (buyer) from the City of Harare Procurement Department. That’s a positive signal not only in ensuring an effective fight against cholera, but corruption as well.

As much as we must encourage people to behave and conduct themselves in a manner that does not jeopardise our current efforts in combating cholera, violence against vendors, or anybody, must not be part of our modus operandi.

The new dispensation learnt nothing and forgot nothing. Violence against vendors has never been successful to the best of my memory. Vendors, yes, must understand that their activities have the potential of spreading cholera even further. However, using violence to disperse them and indiscriminately confiscating their wares creates despondency and anarchy. We must remind ourselves at the end of the day that vendors are merely a consequence of a bigger problem that we must address as a nation.

Also, the deplorable state of our sewer systems deserve government’s energies, rather than expending exorbitant amounts of money on vehicles and campaign billboards. The sooner we will reconfigure our priorities as a nation the better, we will be in a position to bid farewell to hygiene diseases like cholera. It’s quite unfortunate that our people have become the brunt of incompetence by our local authorities and the government.

More than 40 innocent lives have needlessly been lost so far.  It is high time the government must do away with this ambulance proclivity of screaming only when the harm has already been done. There’s need for proactive action and sustainable solutions to stump off the scourge of cholera and typhoid. Proper town planning is a prerequisite in this endeavour. Sewer bursts are a  consequence of untamed population explosion in Harare against the optimum carrying capacity of our old sewer systems.

The unleashing of violence on vendors is another malaise that needs a lasting solution. It doesn’t take a baton to chase a vendor.

However, there must be efforts by both the government and private sector to revitalise industries to create a springboard of better livelihood options for those vendors, and vending would die a natural death, not through coercion and violence.

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