Typhoid outbreak: Councils to blame

HARARE – We are concerned that when other progressive nations are scoring big in terms of technological advancements and eradication of diseases, Zimbabwe is still stuck with medieval illnesses such as typhoid which has claimed a couple of lives and affected thousands.

Indeed, as we have consistently warned in the past year — the signs of a major disease outbreak were lucidly clear but our authorities, reactionary as they are, decided to ignore the warnings only to belatedly issue a 48-hour ultimatum to vendors on Tuesday.

It is unfortunate that in this day and age, we are still grappling with diseases such as cholera and typhoid which are preventable if proper hygienic practices are adhered to, but again it is almost impossible to achieve given that the country’s cities are clogged with vendors who are desperately trying to eke out a living on the fringes of the economy.

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Relevant authorities, particularly government, should realise that trying to impose ultimatums and banning vendors is a mere stop-gap measure that will not address the real problem which is political rather than social.

We should first deal with drivers to the high number of vendors in the country — which, of course, is high unemployment levels — and only then can we pretend to be seriously concerned with tackling the spread of communicable diseases.

Cities like Harare are grappling with diseases such as typhoid because there are no toilets where the hawkers conduct their business. As a result, many end up resorting to relieving themselves in alleys and polluting the central business district, thus creating conditions for disease outbreaks.

Besides, the city fathers have been battling to supply adequate potable water to residents, while uncollected garbage has remained one of their biggest challenges in years.

There are no ablution facilities where the vendors operate from — something that proves the city fathers are the real causers of disease rather than vendors as alleged.

The vendors would be using designated selling points only if the relevant authorities start investing in potential.

This is because councils would rake in thousands of dollars if vendors were well-regulated.

The rainy season is an annual occurrence and as such, we should always be prepared — thus councils should not hide behind the finger and blame the rains, the blame lies squarely on their shoulders.

If one fails to plan then he is planning to fail, so goes a popular saying.

Sadly, that is the apt characterisation of our councils that are good at hiking rates and buying expensive vehicles but are notorious for failing to prioritise service delivery.

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