By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
03 March 2014
There has been an outbreak of typhoid in the twin suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara with nine cases confirmed so far, a leading pressure group in the capital city has said.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said the outbreak was confirmed to community leaders by officials at Mabvuku Polyclinic who admitted that they had treated typhoid patients. According to a CHRA statement, officials at the clinic said they suspected that more people could be infected. The pressure group said the community leaders made an enquiry at the clinic after noting an increase in diarrheal related disease.
CHRA attributed the outbreak to lack of running water a problem which the pressure group said has persisted for four months. According to the pressure group residents have resorted to drinking water from unprotected wells.
Moses Midzi confirmed to SW Radio Africa that he was treated for typhoid two weeks ago. He also confirmed that residents in Mabuku and Tafara are drinking untreated water because the boreholes have also broken down. Midzi who is unemployed said he had to sell his mobile phone to raise the $5 needed to pay for his treatment. He said he was due for a further checkup this Tuesday.
In 2008 cholera and typhoid claimed about 4000 lives countrywide with Mabvuku and Tafara amongst the most affected areas in Harare. Both suburbs have experienced water shortages for years.
CHRA spokesperson Simbarashe Moyo blasted the Harare City Council for ‘keeping a lid’ on the outbreak of typhoid. Moyo told SW Radio Africa that Town House was keen to keep the crisis unreported because it stood to ‘cast light on their corruption and dishonesty.’ He said: ‘The council knows that if it opens up on the issue it will be up for criticism. Last year the council promised to rectify the problem of water shortages but they have not done anything so far and hence this crisis.’
These developments follow reports that Town House officials may have swindled part of the $144 million loan meant for the rehabilitation of water and drainage systems. Reports said officials may have looted more than $100 million through inflating equipment prices for the loan obtained from China. Town House entered into a loan agreement with the Export and Import Bank of China for the refurbishment of water treatment and sewage plants.
SW Radio Africa also reported in January how the council had fleeced medical aid subscriptions amounting to $6 million. The report said the council had gone for two years without remitting subscriptions to the Harare Municipality Medical Aid Society. As a result some of the workers were now being forced to pay cash upfront for treatment despite the fact that the council was deducting subscriptions from their salaries.
Around the same time it was reported that top managers at Town House were earning mega-salaries with a single director taking home a salary that could pay as many as 227 low-earning council workers.