Heroes’ Day will be celebrated in Zimbabwe on Monday — a time to celebrate the liberation war heroes and heroines of the country. But for more than one-million people in the capital, Harare, who have gone for five days without water, the holiday is one of despair as they scramble to find water.
Residents have dug shallow wells and are relying on open and untreated water sources to cope with the dire situation.
Zimbabwe authorities shut down the main water-treatment plant in the capital due to a failure to secure chemicals.
“We wish to advise all our clients that efforts are being made to secure alternative water treatment chemicals to replace those affected by supply chain challenges. Normal water supply services will be restored once the expected chemicals are delivered,” the city said earlier this week.
Harare mayor Jacob Mafume told TimesLIVE the water shutdown was due to a shortage of chemicals from the country’s sole supplier of municipal water chemicals, Zimbabwe Phosphates Industries (Zimphos).
“Pumping has resumed after a shutdown induced by a lack of chemicals from our sole supplier Zimphos/Chemplex owned by government,” he said on Sunday.
“Government and the local council are working flat out to make sure that supplies of the chemicals are constant.
“We are assured chemicals are on the way from Beitbridge. Sulphuric acid is sourced from SA.ca It’s needed in the mixing process at our main supplier.”
An earlier city statement said the expected chemicals were due to be delivered at the Morton Jaffrey water treatment plant by Saturday.
While the mayor said water had returned to some areas on Sunday, at midday large parts of Harare still did not have water.
Recently the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, had its borehole water declared unsafe as it is contaminated by raw sewage and bacteriologically-contaminated soil.
Jane Nyikairo, a mother of three, said she is relying on open water sources for her daily household chores.
“We go to the well to fetch water, we end up using it for cooking and other chores. It’s a terrible situation. Boreholes are few and there are long queues every day,” said Nyikairo.