Home » Governance » Chitungwiza Residents Forced to Use ‘Bucket System’

RUMBIDZAI Moyo, 33, says she last used a flushing toilet in her home some 20 years ago. All she has known over the past two decades is the ‘bucket system’ and plastic bags to relieve herself.

Moyo is not from some village in some remote area in rural Zimbabwe. She is just 25 kilometres away from the glitter of the capital Harare in St Mary’s, a rundown suburb in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza.

During the years she has lived in St Mary’s all that she remembers is raw sewage flowing freely, a constant reminder of the collapse in social services in the poor working class suburb.

“Why should I be ashamed of using chemba (a bucket) when it is the only thing that I have been using since I was 13 years?” says Moyo.

She says a flushing toilet has never been part of her life ever since she was 13.

Patrick Mutero, another resident of St Mary’s, said the very process of relieving themselves in buckets was humiliating and a violation of their personal dignity.

“I really feel humiliated every time I carry this bucket or plastic bag to dispose my human waste and that of my children we also need real toilets with running water,” Mutero says.

Zimbabwe’s more than decade-old economic crisis has seen a collapse in social services. Most city councils are failing to provide basic services such as running water.

Heaps of uncollected garbage pile on the streets.

St Mary’s township, built in the 1960s, is among the badly hit with some residents going for years without accessing tap water.

Residents who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com say it is by the grace of God that disease outbreaks such as cholera and typhoid have not hit their area.

Though major outbreaks of communicable diseases have not been reported, isolated cases of diarrhoea have been attended to by local clinics.

A NewZimbabwe.com news crew that visited the area last week saw residents emptying buckets of human waste right in the open, in a very nonchalant manner.

Some of the waste was thrown into the Dungwiza Primary School playground.

The situation is no better at the school as pupils are also relieving themselves in buckets and emptying them in pits dotted around the school grounds.

The residents blame the Chitungwiza municipality for their misery.

The municipal authorities were hostile when asked for comment on the plight of residents of St Mary’s.

“St Mary’s like any other place like Mabvuku and Tafara high density suburbs in Harare have perennial problems of tap water,” said an official who declined to be named.

“This is because the town council has no money to repair the broken down water pipes to restore the sewer system in the suburb and at the school you mentioned.”

Asked why the council was not digging pit latrines for the residents, the official said this was against the town’s by-laws.

“We can’t break our own laws,” he says.

“It is our hope that all residents have running tap water but the situation here and the way of doing things is manipulated by political interference hence nothing goes according to our planning.”

Source : New Zimbabwe

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