BY SILAS NKALA
THE MATABELELAND Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has produced a documentary chronicling the water crisis at Umguza’s Mbundane suburb where residents have had no running water for the past 15 years.
Mbundane is located in Umguza’s ward 16 within the Bulawayo City Council jurisdiction, which has created the confusion as to which local authority is supposed to service the area.
“We have one borehole the whole of Mbundane and it’s not enough to service the community,” said one resident in the documentary.
“Other boreholes were drilled, but they are not working.”
Another resident said due to shortage of boreholes and clean water sources, some residents ended up collecting water from unprotected water sources, exposing themselves to water borne diseases.
“When we bought these stands we were told that they were serviced, which is not true,” the resident said.
“I have been staying here for eight years now. I use a Blair toilet and it’s unusable especially during the rainy season because it gets filled up with water and human waste and maggots come out.
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The Umguza rural district council drilled six boreholes, but only one of them is working.
The residents appealed to the government to intervene and solve the dispute between the two local authorities to ensure the provision of water and other social services.
MIHR coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said what was happening at Mbundane and Emthunzini suburb, which also falls under Umguza was a result of poor administration by the responsible authorities in terms of contract negotiations with the private developers and monitoring their performance.
“Let’s remember that there are principles that guide business and human rights and business is into profits,” Maphosa said.
“They have to be monitored, there has to be an oversight into the performance of businesses so that they do not eventually violate human rights.
“That has not happened in Umguza, and that is why you then find the problems that have been happening at Umguza.
“We are, therefore, calling for strict oversight of private entities.
“These issues border on corruption and there is need for thorough investigations on what really transpired, because it’s not only one company, but several companies doing the same thing.”
Several companies were contracted to service the area, but they have all abandoned the work under unclear circumstances.
Maphosa urged the Umguza community to press on and claim their rights because they have the right to clean water.
The Bulawayo City Council insists that Mbundane is under Umguza and is not its responsibility in terms of service delivery.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube recently said the local authority was only in charge of providing water to Bulawayo residents not for another local authority.
“I know it’s a hard comment to make, but as council, we are only liable to Bulawayo residents,” Ncube said.
“ It is tricky because Mbundane becomes a suburb in another local authority.”