By Leopold Munhende
SOME 30 000 households at the sprawling Caledonia Farm, east on the outskirts of Harare, have been living without access to clean water and sewer services for the past 21 years.
After various failed attempts to get service delivery in the once informal settlement under Goromonzi Rural District Council, they say the situation is no longer bearable.
Thousands of people moved into the area in 2000 at the height of land invasions and parcelled out residential stands. Government later moved in, in an attempt to regularise the residents’ stay, but basic service delivery at the farm remains a pie in the sky.
It now has an estimated population of 150 000 people.
Promises that schools, clinics, proper roads, electricity and other amenities would be built are still to be made.
“Roads are impassable worse during the rainy season. There is no water and people have resorted to digging wells which is not healthy as the same houses also have septic tanks and expose residents to communicable diseases,” Wellington Chirimba, the Caledonia Residents Association Trust (CRAT) secretary told NewZimbabwe.com Friday.
“There is nothing in terms of service delivery here and the situation is now so bad we do not know if government still remembers us. There are no schools or clinics here.”
In early 2017, the now late former President Robert Mugabe moved Caledonia from Goromonzi Rural District Council to the Harare City Council, which was then under Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni in a bid to speed up development in the area.
When Manyenyeni later appeared before a parliamentary portfolio committee, he indicated the Harare City Council been placed in a tight situation by Mugabe and there was no option but to regularise the settlement and transform it into an urban settlement.
Under the arrangement, Caledonia was supposed to draw water from the Mabvuku-Tafara reservoir despite the fact the source itself struggles to provide for local residents in the two high density suburbs.
“The status of our preparedness to service Caledonia is not going to be pleasant because we are currently failing to supply Harare main,” said Manyenyeni then.
“Caledonia is an illegal settlement that is already there and the question is what the way forward is, notwithstanding that we are battling to provide services for our Harare residents. I would say Caledonia must be declared a disaster, so that appropriate resources are applied to bring speedy solutions.”
Since Mugabe’s directive, Chirimba told NewZimbabwe.com Caledonia residents have not received any communication from government or the Harare City Council.
“We are getting nothing from council or the Local Government Ministry. We hear the ministry is now setting up a body specifically for Caledonia but we do not have that information from official sources.
“After having been asked to pay US$50 each per month by cooperatives operating here, we thought some development will be realised but nothing has changed, in fact it is getting worse by the day.”
Before he was suspended as Harare mayor, Jacob Mafume, in October last told a full council meeting that Local Government Minister July Moyo had ordered for the creation of the caretaker local authority in Caledonia in line with the Urban Councils Act.
“Minister Moyo indicated that there be created a caretaker local authority for Caledonia which is going to be gazetted in terms of the Urban Councils Act,” said Mafume.
“The staff will be seconded from the government and three councils that is; Harare, Ruwa and Goromonzi.”
Mafume added the three local authorities would each also second five councillors to monitor progress in setting up a local board in the area.
However, five months later, nothing has been done.