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Sewage seeps into Harare water supply

Former Harare Mayor, Elias Mudzuri, has said residents of the Zimbabwean capital and satellite towns are consuming water contaminated with raw sewage, due to fighting between government and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) council over the past year.

Mudzuri on Thursday said investigations he had made and information he obtained revealed that Harare could run dry next month. There was a grave risk to residents’ health, he said.

Mudzuri said the fighting between government and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) council over the past year had led to structures collapsing in the water treatment system.

“We have to alert the people that Harare is likely to run dry in October. I have done investigations and visited Lake Chivero and established that things have fallen apart,” Mudzuri said. “One day the city could wake up without any drop of water because of the looming collapse of the water treatment system.”

Lake Chivero supplies water to Harare and satellite towns such as Norton, Chitungwiza and Ruwa.

Mudzuri, who is a qualified engineer, said the quality of water currently being pumped into Harare was unfit for human consumption.

“The treatment plants (at Morton Jaffray) are terribly bad and Lake Chivero is badly polluted. The water currently being consumed has a bad smell because of the untreated raw sewage flowing into the lake and I have since stopped drinking it.”

Mudzuri was elected to head the Harare City Council in 2000 but was only in office a year when local government minister Ignatius Chombo suspended him. Government eventually fired Mudzuri earlier this year and Sekesai Makwavarara, who recently defected to Zanu-PF, took over as acting mayor.

Harare has been struggling to secure funds to import water treatment chemicals over the past year and Mudzuri said, added to this, plumbers who had been employed during his tenure were fired leaving the council without enough manpower at the water treatment plants.

University of Zimbabwe scientist Professor Chris Magadza this week warned of the danger of microcystin levels rising well above World Health Organisation recommended limits in Lake Chivero.

Microcystins cause cancers, intestinal disorders and damage human male testicular chromosomes, Magadza said.

Mudzuri said recent claims by Chombo that government was giving Harare City Council Z$50-billion didn’t offer hope for the city.

“That amount is too little considering the terrible state of affairs on the issue of water treatment as well as others such as refuse collection,” he said.

The MDC pulled out its remaining 22 Harare councillors a fortnight ago following six months without council holding meetings. Chombo suspended 19 councillors in May after they had refused to take his orders barring them from holding meetings. – Zimbabwe Independent

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Itai Dzamara
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