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‘Neglected’ Mbare area declared a state of emergency; residents using shovels and buckets to empty excreta

By Darlington Gatsi

HARARE’S high density suburb Mbare’s New Lines area has been declared a national state of emergency paving way for the government to disburse funds that will be directed towards improving social amenities.

The New Lines area in Mbare, whose houses were constructed during the colonial era, is in a dire straits with poor sanitation and malfunctioning water pipes.

This has left the residents exposed to health hazards such as cholera and typhoid.

Harare having recorded three deaths from cholera, is currently fighting a potential epidemic leaving them at more risk.

So dire is the situation that the residents have resorted to using shovels and buckets to empty excreta from blocked toilets.


After government officials visited the area last month, the Cabinet, Tuesday directed houses in the area to be demolished.

“Cabinet noted the report, declared the situation a state of emergency and directed that Devolution Funds be used for refurbishing the sewer system and garbage clearance. Directed that the Ministry of Health and Child Care provides solution related to health and safety.

“Directed that families in poor habitation be profiled and provided with temporary shelter in the vicinity, while their houses are demolished and replaced with blocks of flats,” said Jenfan Muswere during a post cabinet media briefing.

The Mbare situation is a reflection of the state of affairs in the Capital’s council which has struggled to provide its residents with basic services.

Muswere shouldered the blame on Harare City Council for failing to service the high density area.

“Some of the problems are that the Harare City Council, which charges monthly rentals of US$100 per room, is not carrying out any repairs and maintenance and blockages are attended to by volunteers,” said Muswere.

Last month the Minister of Housing and Social Amenities, Daniel Garwe promised residents of New Lines new houses which was viewed by observers as a campaign gimmick ahead of elections slated for August 23.

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