The role of politics in the prolonged water crisis in Mutare, Manicaland province of Zimbabwe

Dick Ranga


Several Zimbabwean cities experienced water-related challenges during the Zimbabwean crisis (2000-2008) culminating in the cholera outbreak in Harare in 2008. These problems still exist despite the country’s official adoption of multiple currencies in February 2009. The study assessed the role of politics in worsening these challenges. Water problems are relegated to the domain of scientists, economists and administrators neglecting the role of politics. Politics referred to government’s inability to curb corruption and political rivalry. It used newspaper cuttings, unstructured interviews with key informants and 12 women in Dangamvura and Hobhouse suburbs for information. Mutare’s water crisis is caused by the reticulation system’s aged infrastructure. Compounded by undulating terrain, water is then released at low pressure and fails to reach some suburbs. A 2011 rehabilitation project flopped due to uncurbed corruption. The problem was worsened by politics especially unconstructive criticisms among politically divided councillors, dismissal of an elected opposition mayor, lack of transparency, and the failure by government departments and residents to honour council debts due to economic bottlenecks. Local authorities should integrate water rehabilitation programmes and not to solve one part of the problem as MCC did. Zimbabwean political leaders need to deal with corruption more decisively.


Mutare City Council; water crisis; politics

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