Harare has become the unfortunate victim of political power play between the ruling ZANU PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) which have steadily desecrated its state.
Uncollected garbage has become both the abiding motif of Harare’s landscape and the fruition of the political wrangling between the parties.
Whereas a simple plan to collaborate between Council and government agencies could overnight bring positive results, none has been forthcoming.
Instead, the two parties have steadily entrenched their positions against each other.
Last week Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume announced that they were launching Operation Chenesa Harare.
“The first stage of the operation is to clear the number of dumps that have sprouted, and we have over 600 illegal dumps where waste has accumulated in the suburbs.
“We have authorised the release of not less than US$2 000 to our district offices where residents, district officers and other stakeholders will work to remove illegal dumpsites in all 26 districts,” he said.
He said new equipment was bought, while others have been repaired to deal with waste on a weekly basis, and intermediate stations will also be created to cut the number of journeys that trucks make to Pomona Waste Management.
Meanwhile Central Government, through the Permanent Secretary for Information Ndabaningi Mangwana was announcing that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) would be taking over the garbage collection.
With three trucks!
According to officials EMA is set to buy refuse collection trucks and temporarily manage solid waste in Harare.
How EMA is going to carry out garbage collection with three trucks when Harare Council is struggling with over 25 compactors and 10 tipper trucks is mind-bending.
Obviously sensing the politics behind, never mind the absurdity, the Harare City Council has vowed to resist the move, saying only the local authority is mandated to collect refuse in the city.
“These statements are misleading and affect existing contracts.
“EMA bought 3 trucks chief.We have over 25 compactors working and 10 tipper trucks, 300 hundred street cleaners and many others.
“Fuel per day is huge. EMA can’t do the work with 3 trucks .You need to give us the trucks,” said Mafume to Mangwana.
The Political Plan
The challenges being faced by Harare Council in garbage collection are now old news.
The authorities have cited a litany of causes such as lack of funds and obsolete machinery.
As for Central Government (read ZANU PF), it has disavowed its involvement unless it can be voted for to run Harare.
Government has essentially told the residents that it won’t offer any respite or solution unless the residents vote for it to run Harare Council.
Thus uncollected garbage has become a political rallying point for ZANU PF to show how CCC has failed.
The situation is messy and ominous considering how low the chances for ZANU PF to win the urban Wards.
Since the 2018 elections the economy, the main factor in elections for urbanites, has been in a dire state and residents have largely grown tired of the ruling party.
That it keeps winning the elections despite their avowed hate for it, has only served to frustrate them more.
Voting for the opposition in urban areas has thus become their small way of getting back at ZANU PF.
If they can’t remove it wholly, they will deny it whatever small victory they can muster.
It is against this background that the garbage may not be enough to sway back support for ZANU PF.
Which means the uncollected garbage may be with us for a long time.