ZCTU boss blames cholera outbreak on land barons

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Japhet Moyo has urged government to deal decisively with bogus land dealers he says had a lot to do with the current cholera outbreak that has claimed 27 lives in Harare with reports it was spilling out to many other parts of the country.

“The long arm of the law should quickly catch up with land barons who continue to parcel out land and allowing for the construction of illegal settlements without proper servicing and sanitary facilities which is contributing to the cause of diseases like cholera.

“The authorities should prosecute those found on the wrong side of the law,” Moyo said in a statement.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga have issued continued public threats against politically connected individuals who work with authorities to parcel out state and council land to often unsuspecting home seekers.

Most of the so-called land barons have been linked to the ruling Zanu PF party with names such as that of newly appointed deputy information minister Energy Mutodi, former Zanu PF Chitungwiza councillor Fredrick Mabamba and former Zanu PF MP Shadreck Mashayamombe among those that have been linked to illegal land sales.

What is however astounding is that the government has, throughout the years, employed half-hearted attempts to have the accused individuals prosecuted and jailed.

In his comments, the ZCTU chief said Zimbabwean workers were seriously concerned by the current cholera outbreak that has claimed 27 lives with the majority coming from Harare where the epidemic started.

He called on the government to come up with robust strategies aimed at eradicating both cholera and typhoid.

“The first port of call is to provide clean water,” he said.

“The outbreak of cholera and typhoid, which are medieval diseases, is a clear indicator that both the central government and local authorities have failed to provide better sanitation to the people.

“There is also a serious lax in enforcement of various bylaws and everyone has been left selling foodstuffs and handling of such without getting clearance from health inspectors.

“The Public Health Act, (which is critical) if properly administered, can also help in ensuring that no one should handle food without undergoing medical examinations,” he said.

Moyo urged the communities to come up with community health clubs whose roles would be to monitor the environment and report any sewer bursts and indiscriminate dumping of waste and also ensure that local authorities provided services.

“It is disturbing, however, to note that the taskforce set up by government has left out key civic organisations like organised labour which can also play a critical role in educating and mentoring the communities on how to prevent waterborne diseases.

“Government must seriously channel resources towards mitigation and treatment as well as proper town planning and service provision to avert such disasters in the future,” Moyo added.