By Clayton Shereni

WHILST the country is facing a serious cholera threat, Zanu PF-linked land barons have ignored calls for improved service delivery in sprawling suburbs of Masvingo despite cashing in on desperate home-seekers in recent years.

Masvingo which happens to be the first city of Zimbabwe has been reduced to a city of poor service delivery standards and home to abuse of basic human rights key among them access to water and sanitation.

Straggly residential areas including Victoria Ranch and Clipsham Views have reportedly gone for months without consistent supply of running water and there has been no refuse collection for years.

The suburb of Clipsham Views has seen many beneficiaries crying foul due to the lack of water supply which they say is supplied once a week.

With cholera ravaging the country, many residents in the area have raised alarm over the possible outbreak of cholera in the areas since there is also no sewer reticulation.

One of Clipsham residents, Bedknock Chirikure, who spoke to Centre News, said they are facing a plethora of problems with water supply being one of the most critical shortages being experienced in the area.

“Here we get water one day per week usually on a Sunday. What pains us is that we don’t get answers from those that sold us land. We fear for our lives since cholera has been reported in many parts of the country so if it spreads to our area we are doomed,” said Chirikure.

A resident from Victoria Ranch, Rosemary Muringani also said they are being served by unprotected water sources and boreholes despite numerous attempts to engage relevant authorities to try and put an end to the ongoing lack of basic service delivery.

“We have lost hope, no one seems to care if we are getting services or not. Land barons took our money and instead of offering services they are living large and ignoring our pleas concerning service delivery and now we are forking out money to sink alternative water sources,” she said.

Many residents have resorted to erecting wells and boreholes inside their yards in a bid to cover up for the crisis as thousands of households in the remainder of Vic Ranch have never received a single drop of water from their taps for years.

The prevailing situation is a health time-ticking bomb that if not urgently attended, will soon explode.

Victoria Ranch which has over 10 000 households hasn’t been receiving any meaningful basic service delivery for close to 8 years.

Masvingo Rural District Council (RDC), land developers who happen to be land barons, and the City of Masvingo have been shifting the blame on each other over the underdevelopment and lack of services in Victoria Ranch.

Masvingo RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Martin Mubviro told Centre News that they have since signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with land developers and will soon review if they are doing what is required of them.

“We have an MoU with developers which stipulates that it’s their mandate to provide water, roads, and sewer system. We will soon review what they are doing in the area,” said Mubviro.

Land barons have blamed the two local authorities whilst councils have shifted the blame on the land barons.

Masvingo Mayor Collen Maboke said other stakeholders involved in developing the areas haven’t been forthcoming but they are willing to assist and offer services.

“The land barons haven’t been cooperating. They were supposed to meet some demands so that we would take over service delivery so whatever my council is doing there, we are just chipping in to assist,” Maboke said.

No refuse collection, no sewer reticulation, and erratic water supply have been the order of the day in Victoria Ranch and Clipsham Views.

Zanu PF-linked land barons have been playing hide and seek when it comes to service delivery in the area.

Some of the land barons include; the City of Masvingo deputy Mayor and aspiring Zanu PF candidate for Masvingo Urban, Wellington Mahwende, incumbent legislator for Chivi Central Ephraim Gwanongodza, Goddard Dunira nephew to Zanu’s ‘godfather’ Josiah Dunira Hungwe and former Zanu PF councilor for Ward 10, Lovemore Mufamba.

These land barons have failed to answer the call of providing basic services in areas where they are obliged to do so since they benefitted from land sales.

Contacted for comment, one of the land barons Mahwende said: “Currently we are focusing on power supply. Vic Ranch has many land developers and in my area, we installed a water system but there are some areas where the developers have failed.”

Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra) director, Anoziva Muguti lambasted the local authorities and land barons for failing to provide services in areas of need at a time when the country is threatened by a deadly cholera outbreak.

“The situation obtaining in these areas is very worrisome, residents are being forced to live in inhumane conditions. Barons and local authorities must put an end to this mess now. Residents are enduring tough conditions whilst they paid for these services,” said Muguti.

Masvingo has registered some cholera cases with a spike being a possibility due to the high prevalence of cholera across the country.

With water supply being problematic in the city, Masvingo remains a possible hotspot for cholera.

Authorities have been called upon to be vigilant and on high alert as the threat remains in the red zone.