Government has given the Harare City Council a seven-day ultimatum to decisively deal with vendors plying their trade at non-designated spots as this is aiding the cholera outbreak.
Failure to do this will result in central Government moving in to institute relevant corrective measures, as President Mnangagwa’s administration continues to prioritise public health to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.
This was revealed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday.
The ultimatum to the local authority becomes the latest effort made by President Mnangagwa’s administration in dealing with the current outbreak after it last week activated the Civil Protection Unit Act in Harare where a surge in cases has been reported in recent weeks.
During the period November 9 to November 15, there were 1 259 new suspected cholera cases reported compared to 437 reported the previous week. Goromonzi, Mudzi, Mutasa and Mutoko are the new districts that reported cases during this period.
The highest number of cholera cases during this period were from Harare (323), Chitungwiza (206) and Buhera (68).
Dr Mombeshora said Government’s top priority presently was saving Zimbabweans’ lives hence vendors operating at illegal spaces will “definitely” be dealt with.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to ensure that the infectious disease is ended.
“So we have had a conversation with the Municipality of Harare authorities to take remedial measures, failure of which we will have to move in as Government, and definitely we have to remove these illegal vendors because they will cost us lives.
“We have to save lives, we have to stop this cholera from spreading so no one should be left doing the wrong thing because we will lose lives.
“We gave them a week to take corrective measures, failure of which Government we will move in,” he said.
Dr Mombeshora directed vendors to ply their trade at properly designated vending areas where there are sanitary facilities.
He said the overcrowding of vendors at illegal places was not helping the situation but rather resulting in more cholera hotspots.
“After looking at all factors we came up with that decision having realised that vendors are all over the roads, at shopping centres people are cooking food, selling tomatoes, vegetables but if you look at it there is no water to clean these commodities and there are no toilets so what is happening from morning till evening when all these vendors are there and they are overcrowded areas.
“Designated places have toilets, proper tables and water to wash hands, vegetables and goods, so that is what we want to see taking place in Harare,” he said.
Poor service delivery by the opposition-led councils, said Dr Mombeshora, was also not helping the situation.
“After touring Kuwadzana in particular, Kuwadzana is where we are getting 40 percent of cholera cases in Harare coming from.
“That is where we are seeing challenges of water supply, poor refuse disposal and poor sewage reticulation,” he said.
Also speaking at the post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said delivery of medicines and commodities, and their subsequent redistribution to provinces had commenced in earnest.
“In response to the cholera challenges, deliveries of procured medicines and commodities to NatPharm started on November 7, 2023, and redistribution to provinces and districts had already commenced.
“Regarding water and sanitation, point of use water treatment chemicals are being distributed in the affected households,” he said.
Dr Muswere said the Second Republic continues to reiterate the enforcement of mitigatory measures as well as availing of services to curb the spread of the infectious disease.
“Cabinet has reiterated as follows:
a) that risk communication and community engagement, including involvement of religious and local leadership, school health education on cholera and other diseases be intensified, and utilisation of existing media houses and digital platforms for content dissemination be continued;
b) that there be improved safe water access to communities through rehabilitation of boreholes and drilling of new ones;
c) that public health measures be enforced in all communities reporting cholera cases, including restrictions of gatherings in all cholera affected areas, and supervision of all burials in all cholera affected areas;
d) that vending be restricted to designated areas only; and that since Harare City Council is failing to provide water and sanitation facilities, Government is intervening including in the maintenance of Harare City Council water bowsers; and that the Ministry of Health and Child Care should intensify the monitoring of all provinces,” he said. State media