Harare typhoid a result of land corruption
As Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), we place the blame for typhoid outbreak on the corrupt allocation of land by politicians at variance with local authorities’ physical and spatial planning.
Over the last decade or so, land barons and politicians have been colluding to parcel out land to people on top of sewer pipes, at recreational facilities like football pitches and wetlands or undesignated open spaces as both get-rich quick and a vote-buying gimmicks.
Such malpractices have resulted in poor water and sanitation facilities, threatening to be a catastrophic humanitarian crisis if unchecked, particularly in Harare, where the population has ballooned in the midst of poor service delivery.
From October 2016 to January 2017, over 70 per cent of typhoid cases were reported from Harare. Official statistics say there were 126 suspected cases, 12 confirmed and two deaths countrywide.
The City of Harare’s health department in collaboration with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) set up a typhoid treatment centre at the Edith Opperman Clinic in Mbare to treat patients exhibiting symptoms of typhoid.
The campaign targets markets, schools, churches and water points as well as door-to-door awareness. Due to the increase in the number of home-seekers corruptly allocated stands everywhere the City of Harare no longer has the capacity to treat water to meet the requirements of the increasing population.
In the end, water that is pumped to the homes is dangerously contaminated. The corruption also goes to the allocation of vending sites by local authorities, which sadly is done along partisanship lines. Corruption has been blamed for fuelling massive unemployment in the country and the recent pronouncement to ban vending is not a solution to curb typhoid and cholera outbreaks.
The government must ensure that water and sanitation crisis is resolved immediately before lives are lost. Reports that some people in certain high-density suburbs are being forced to contribute a fee towards refuse collection are disturbed if proven to be true. Refuse collection must be stepped up.
Due to the erratic water supply, most people have resorted to using borehole water. Since we are in the rainy season, seepage of sewer-infected water into the boreholes is the main driver of typhoid.
The banning of fruit and vegetable vending is a temporary measure that does not deal with the deep structural challenges caused by corruption and the incompetence of local authorities and a lack of coordination between the relevant authorities including Ministry of Health and Local Government.
These problems are also compounded by the mushrooming of informal housing cooperatives on unplanned sites, which are against the city’s master plan. Such behaviour by the politicians appears to be an extension of the electoral map of Harare at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the citizens.
The typhoid and cholera outbreak is indicative of gross corruption and incompetence of the politicians and local authorities in restoring sanity to city planning and accompanied by service delivery infrastructure.
To that end, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) will host a policy dialogue at New Ambassador Hotel in Harare on Thursday 9 February 2017 in an attempt to contribute towards attainment of its Key Result Area 1 on increased political will and responsiveness by duty bearers to address corruption.
TI Z Ethics and Accountability Forums (EAF) are policy dialogues that are intended to be vehicles through which TI Z convenes key stakeholders to deliberate and find lasting policy solutions to topical corruption and governance issues in Zimbabwe.
The proposed EAF Policy Dialogue will provide a platform through which citizens, civil society, policy makers and communities of practise in the 1) anti-corruption value chain, ii) urban land planning and governance, iii) city health and housing needs and iv) electoral cycle converge to mutually analyse and discuss current realities around:
- Urban land governance
- Typhoid crisis
- The enclaves of urban planning and 2018 elections.
The realities under discussion have been shaping and defining the Zimbabwean political economy especially now as the country prepares for its 2018 elections, spurring the country towards a humanitarian crisis. This policy dialogue provides all citizens who have a sense of national duty to participate in redirecting the dangerous course corrupt land allocation has set for our most vulnerable communities, whether in the name of money or winning electoral votes.