By Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT)
Introduction- The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) conducted community visits in Highfield, Glen View, Budiriro and Glen Norah suburbs in the week of 12- 16 July 2021 in order to observe and listen to residents’ experiences of service delivery during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Key problems highlighted by the residents are education, transport challenges, water shortages, collapsing health service delivery, inconsistent and non-existent refuse collection in most communities.
Considered from a human rights perspective, the residents felt that their rights and needs have been neglected by the authorities, and their children are engaged in drug abuse, conducting abortions for unwanted pregnancies while others are involved in outright prostitution, jeopardising their chances of furthering their education.
2. Key Service Delivery Issues Engaged
2.1.Right to Education Compromised- The re-opening of schools has been further delayed due to increasing cases of Covid-19 positive cases.
This has given rise to the conduct of extra lessons as parents want their children to continue learning while waiting for schools to reopen. Residents said most of the teachers conducting extra lessons want the parents to pay in USD only which most parents struggle to access due to their vending businesses.
This is depriving children rights to education. Reports indicate high rates of school dropouts due to unwanted pregnancies, drug abuses and child prostitution.
There are cases in Glen View 7 and Budiriro 3 where identified students were impregnated by extra lessons male teachers. Some of the parents alleged that some of the male teachers are even organising sexual partners for their pupils.
Lessons conducted in the evening are the most challenging as children leave their houses on the pretext that they are attending lessons when they are busy doing mischief.
In Glen View 7 girls are using unfinished ZAOGA church as a lodge and another place called Satan Bar where young girls are recruited into prostitution.
This has negative impacts on the future of the school children whose future is being torn into pieces through these immoral activities.
2.2.Gender dimension of Drug abuse and Child Prostitution-
The girls are involved in prostitution while most of the boys are engaging in drug abuse and even being made runners for drug cartels said to be very rich and powerful. Children are becoming addicted to the drug.
Drug abuse crisis was mentioned in all the visited communities. In Glen View 7 there is a place called Tanaka where young boys are smoking crystal meth or guka.
This place is reportedly owned by police officers and other high-ranking government officials are involved. One mother whose son is involved in the drug abuse said that when she went to the place to confront the drug lords over her son, the drug lords ended up beating her son to near death, and they almost drugged her before someone rescued her.
This demonstrates that illegal activities are happening under the nose of the police in the communities. Frightened for her son, she reported the matter at Glen Norah Police Station where she was not helped.
She claims that the police told her not to interfere in other people’s businesses. They reportedly told her to go anywhere she wanted, but they will not be involved in the matter.
2.3.Health delivery system-
The health sector in Harare has declined because of corruption. During this covid-19 pandemic residents are facing hindrances in accessing medication at health facilities.
At Rutsanana Clinic in Glen Norah nurses are reportedly not attending to expectant mothers.
This has been a challenge especially when their pregnancies are due. Some women end up giving birth in their homes as nurses are failing to attend to them.
This has increased dependence on one Madzimai Miriam, a traditional midwife who is helping pregnant women to give birth. Well-informed residents say Madzimai Miriam charges US$20 because a majority of the expectant mothers cannot afford alternative private maternity clinics.
There are cases of two children who died at her place while others have faced birth complications beyond her capacity. Access to the Covid-19 vaccine is a major challenge for most residents, especially at Rutsanana and Budiriro Polyclinics. Residents claimed that they have to bribe the nurses in order to access the vaccines.
It is further claimed that most of the people receiving the vaccines at these clinics are company workers and those who are able to pay who do not join the queue but simply get in in the company of the nurses and get vaccinated after allegedly paying around US$10 which is shared among the health personnel and security guards. Therefore, this shows that people are facing challenges in accessing health services.
Residents pay for refuse collection services but the service is not being offered by the City of Harare. Resultantly, garbage heaps are piling across the suburbs.
Highfield Cherima residents complained that the refuse collectors are very rude and use vulgar language when speaking to residents. Glen View 7 residents complained to the District Officer about uncollected refuse and they were told that the refuse vehicles were broken down and there was no diesel.
The District Officer told the residents that they could dump the garbage at the council offices so that when the council trucks are functional they will pick the garbage from there.
This therefore reveals that the council lacks serious workers who can properly provide a service to ratepayers.
2.5.Water Supplies- In Budiriro
3 there is inconsistent water delivery. Some houses receive water every Thursday and others never receive council water. The prepaid water meters are no longer working so they are no longer receiving council water.
Their reports to the council have yielded no positive results. Council workers reportedly told the residents that they were cheated by the Chinese company that installed their prepaid water meters and there was nothing that the council could do about it. The residents want the prepaid water meters to be removed but council is not acting on their demands.
The result is that the residents who had bought top up water units cannot use them because the prepaid water meters are all dysfunctional. In Highfield Cherima, residents have widespread water shortages.
Water from lines 67 to 69 receive council water from 6pm to 5am. Council officials have told the residents that this was due to blocked water pipes which have sand.
The pipes are old and now rusty.
Another challenge revealed by the residents is that of illegal water connections from house numbers 6806 and 6807.
Residents fear that storing water in buckets and other containers increases the risk of young children drowning in them.
In the four communities, residents reported that they daily face public transport challenges.
Glen View 7 residents explained that ZUPCO crews demand bribes of between ZW$10 to ZW$20 from commuters above what is officially gazetted by the government of ZW$40 per trip.
There are no ZUPCOs in their area because they do not bribe their drivers so drivers go where they receive bribes. Private transport is very expensive for them, going for one USD per trip. Drivers want 10 bond from each person and those who pay them are the ones who first board buses are regarded as staff.
There are no ZUPCO buses that go to Budiriro 3. However, in order to get the buses, commuters from the suburb give ZW$20 to a specific ZUPCO crew on Mondays and Fridays which guarantees them a ZUPCO bus every day at 0530hrs.
Without paying that bribe, there would not be any ZUPCO bus to ferry them, and they would have to use illegal kombis and private motorists which is high risk because kombis are not allowed to operate if they are not under the ZUPCO franchise. Glen Norah does not have any ZUPCO buses and residents struggle daily to get to work and home.
The poor families whose children are going to school are demanding an immediate solution to the plight of extra lessons, drug abuse, teen pregnancies, abortions and the role of police officers in the drug peddling business.
Access to Covid-19 vaccines has been compromised by corrupt nursing staff and security guards at council clinics. Service delivery continues to decline due to high levels of corruption, incompetence among council personnel and lack of leadership to address key challenges.