By Albert Nxumalo
A Bulawayo legislator Anele Ndebele on Wednesday made a passionate plea in Parliament for Government to urgently declare the Bulawayo water crisis a state of disaster in a bid to attract development partners.
Ndebele raised the issue following the death of at least 13 Luveve residents while thousands were affected from a diarrhoea outbreak that occurred after they drank contaminated tap water.
Early this year Government ruled out declaring the city a water crisis area saying there was enough water to last up to 14 months.
The government consultants said the water challenges in the city were merely technical.
Residents in the city are enduring at least 144 hours of water shedding with the city’s supply dams now below 30 percent of their capacity.
Said Ndebele, “Hon. Speaker, I wish to address myself quickly to the Luveve water situation.
“From as early as May this year, residents of Luveve in Bulawayo have been getting sick from drinking Municipal water,” the Parliamentary Hansard quoted him saying.
“The same has happened in Lobengula, Magwegwe, Mpopoma and elsewhere but without causing death. The Luveve water supply conundrum Hon. Speaker Sir, is not just a Luveve issue, it is a Bulawayo issue and by extension, a Zimbabwean issue.
“I have a prayer Hon. Speaker for our Hon. Minister of Local Government in line with Section 77 of our Constitution, if it pleases you Hon. Minister of Local Government ( July Moyo), could you kindly and urgently declare the Bulawayo water situation a state of disaster so that the response thereto becomes global and we get cooperating partners assisting our Government in dealing with Luveve water situation urgently.”
In response, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda ‘blocked’ debates on the issue saying Ndebele’s “delivery was as clear as water, we do not want to dilute it”.
“The Hon. Minister of Local Government I am sure has taken note of that and will respond accordingly,” Mudenda reportedly said.
As the water crisis escalates, the city fathers are pleading with residents to accept the recycling of Khami Dam water as it works on alternative solutions to the city’s water crisis.
The local authority has identified recycling of Khami Dam water as one of the sustainable ways of providing running water to the city.
However, council face an uphill task in convincing residents to accept the plan as they have in the past objected to recycling of the heavily polluted water.
But the local authority believes advanced technology will make the water safe for drinking and the recycling project will cost about US$28 million.
With the declararation of the city`s water crisis a national disaster, it will pave way for the local authority to engage local and international funding partners.
But in February, the city fathers debated during a full council meeting over the possible ripple effects such a declaration would have on the economy of Bulawayo.
They raised fears that an announcement that Bulawayo was running dry and appealing for assistance from the international community would scare away potential investors who may be considering bringing business to the city.