9th ParliamentOpinion

Letter to Parliament of Zimbabwe

Dear Honourable Members

I am writing this letter with a heavy heart if one of you knew how to relay issues from their constituency I would have spent my time doing other things, but here we are.

I write from the humble constituency of Harare South, not sure if you have heard of it but numerically it is the largest constituency in Harare.

This is where suburbs or rather, settlements, like Hopley, Ushewokunze, Southlands, Amsterdam, Southlea Park and a few others are found.

My hope is you are enjoying the much-needed rest, shouting and howling can be a very demanding vocation.

Such times can be apt settings for reflection so I will get to the crux of my writing.

The people of Harare South probably need counselling, for the conditions which you are complaining as a sign of degenerating conditions of living in Zimbabwe are what define their daily realities.

The constituency, which has been in existence for over a decade now has not lived in a way that shows they are in an urban setup.

Since the establishment of the settlement, they have not had water, sewer reticulation systems, power or roads.

They have been surviving on firewood for cooking and wells for water.

The wells of which are less than 10 metres from their Blair Toilets and septic tanks.

When these people hear you arguing about water challenges or power cuts, they feel you are not speaking on their behalf because they do not have power connections, to begin with, neither do they have safe sources of water.

It is the rain season and they do not know if they should rejoice or weep.

With the effects of climate change emerging the way they are, no one should be surprised if people end up wielding machetes fighting for water in the area.

There is a water crisis, a crisis which authorities are well aware of, they knew this from the day people were allowed to settle on unserviced land.

Many wells had dried, so there will be a degree of celebration from the 120 000 plus who were now waking up in the middle of the night to fetch water for convenience.

There is a semblance of relief, no lie, but it comes with reservations.

Without roads, this means moving around will automatically become a pain, pedestrians and motorists are equally affected.

One of yours, promised them roads, not that they are holding their breath but if you can remind him to be a man of his word.

As if it is a land of the cursed, Harare South is a place where
inconvenience is almost an operative word.

Up to early this year, the whole constituency did not have a single public health institution.

A community where people drink water from unsafe sources did not have an affordable clinic or hospital.

If it was not for United Nations agencies and the city of Harare we would still be commuting to Highfield and Glen Norah for mundane check-ups.

The capacity does not cater for all health concerns in the constituency which is the biggest in the city, but at least is a start.

Zimbabwe is what can be defined as a young country.

This means in any setting, the largest demographic are those of school-going age.

In Harare South there are no public schools, there is no single secondary school established either by Government or council.

The people are left to make plans on their own; in fact, land which was earmarked for schools on the area maps have houses sitting on it.

Many parents have resigned to reality and allowed their children to attend dubious private colleges with no track record.

Parents are left with no option but to entrust the future of their children in the hands of untested institutions.

Others, who are better endowed, are sending their children to schools in Waterfalls, Glen View, Glen Norah and other nearby suburbs.

There is only one primary school whose status is opaquely known as Southlea Park Primary School, it does not sit learners for Grade 7 examinations, they have to go to another centre.

I am sure in places like Ushewokunze and Hopley there are a lot of children out of school, a drive around the place indicates so.

I believe there is a serious intellectual genocide happening in Harare South.

No one sleeps ease in Harare South.

There is an outstanding issue which both the City of Harare and government appear reluctant to solve.

People in Harare South have been locked in disputes with a number of landowners who claim they own the land where they live.

Fears of demolition linger over their heads; they are yet to receive title deeds for land (some of them) paid for.

Now the government is promising 470 000 new housing units when there is a settlement in crisis.

Is it not better if they regularise Harare South and bring dignity to people`s lives before they embark on such ambitious projects?

Parliament has the budgetary oversight before you release the money for new houses, may you please consider us who are forgotten.

There is more, but letters in nature are supposed to be brief.

My belief is when one runs for Parliament; they are responsible citizens who want to play a part in the development of the country.

May you please raise some of these concerns on our behalf, when the government comes to Parliament.

Please tell them there are people in need.

A people whose Member of Parliament they feel disappointed with.

A people who have given up hope on prospects of a normal life.

Yours

He who hails from a forgotten land.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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