Cuthbert Mashoko

After a four hour drive to Mupandawana, We finally arrived and my first port of call was visiting the public ablution facility, hence I dashed to the nearest at the bus terminus.

Pressed as l was, l braved myself for all the nuisance associated with public toilets. As l set my foot in the facility, l could not resist admiring the exquisite brown tilled floor.

This was a rare welcome, curiously, l made my way into the facility, l was taken aback. For minutes l stood numb as l admired the ablution facility. Only to be alerted of the purpose of my visit by those who came after me.

A fresh scent punctuated the environment. Water was running. After doing myself justice and well relieved, l extended my visit as l took pictures of the immaculate accommodative facility.

As l walked out of this ablution in satisfaction, I noticed that close to it was another one slightly different, where clients would pay for services.

From the advertising billboard on its wall, this facility had even facilities for taking a bath. With memories of the superb public toilet in my mind made my way across the taxi rank.

Only to be struck by another wonder, the environment was just clean.  No litter, vendors were busy on their stalls with their wares neatly displayed.

It is these uncommon observations that challenged me to pen this article, at a time when issues of service delivery are a thorn in the flesh of many residents, be it in urban or rural settlements in the country.

l have a feeling that the Council Authorities in Gutu, Mupandawana deserve a thumbs up for a job well done.

 Cleanliness is next Godliness, so goes the old adage. Transformation of our societies for the better is premised on small things which we just need to do right.

It is these small steps that will take us to “India”. Provision of Water and Sanitation is Sustainable Development Goal number 6. Fulfilment of this goal is a drive towards the eradication of health ailments such as cholera that thrives on poor hygienic practices.

Keeping the environment clean is a virtue which needs to be practiced by every citizen and local authorities have the duty of enforcing it.

l was not surprised to learn that in Mupandawana it is actually a bookable offense for one to recklessly dispose banana peels.

This is the way to go for council authorities, they need to craft mechanisms that regulate and inform residents on the expected standards.

For instance billboards inscribed NO TO DUMPING, KEEP YOUR ENVIRONMENT CLEAN, THOSE CAUGHT DUMPING WILL BE PROSECUTED act both as deterrent and educational measures.

Enforcing bylaws ensures conformity to the laid out standards by stakeholders. I have a feeling that other urban settlements have to pluck a leaf from Gutu authorities as they do things right in their backyards.

It is disturbing to note that there are urban settlements which do not have functional public toilets.

People resort to the use of toilets in beerhalls. A condition which only favors those who frequent beerhalls and what happens to children under the age of eighteen and those who are not comfortable by even coming close to a beerhall? In most cases they are forced to resort to the use of nearby bushes.

Worthy mentioning also in Mupandawana is how public transport has continued to be regulated by a well manned bus terminus. This has enabled the town fathers to beef up their revenue through charging a fee for parking and loading in the taxi rank.

How the local authority has managed to maintain this in the face of ”mushika-shika” which has reduced some of the yesteryear famous bus terminuses like Mucheke in the city of Masvingo into white elephants calls for credit.

This has helped to maintain sanity and a state of orderliness in this urban settlement which has demonstrated vast potential to develop.

While vendors have been a menace in other urban settlements as they overshadow supermarkets by selling their wares right in front of entrance or exit doors of supermarkets, in Mupandawana it is not the case.

Vendors sell their wares at their well designated places. This has enabled vendors to do their trade without playing the cat and mouse game with the local authorities and also not encroaching in other business players’ territory.

Judging from the state of affairs in Mupandawana, there is no doubt that this effort is a collective effort from the Local Authority, Residents and Residents Ratepayers Association. Let the fires keep burning in Mupandawana. Gutu is good!

Cuthbert Mashoko is a Development Practitioner and a Teacher, he writes in his own capacity.