The Sunday Mail
A LOT of things are happening in our teapot-shaped Republic that one can be forgiven for not keeping up with the grapevine.
But try as Bishop Lazi might have wanted, he has found it increasingly difficult — impossible even — to ignore the bloodbath in the opposition CCC wrought by the trigger-happy Sengezo Tshabangu.
By the end of last week, the scalps in his trophy cabinet had swelled to an impressive 28 legislators and 69 councillors.
Among the casualties are the party’s top cats such as Gift Ostallos Siziba, Amos Chibaya, Ian Makone and Jameson Timba.
It just shows that the sword has now struck close to the throne.
Was it not Bishop Lazarus who warned CCC leader Nelson Chamisa before the elections that he needed to sleep with one eye open?
Chamisa will, however, ultimately win the bruising fight for leadership of the opposition, but he will emerge mortally wounded that he would not mount any meaningful challenge to wrest power from ZANU PF, which grows ever stronger.
The result of the Gutu West by-election is ominous, as the CCC National Assembly candidate, Ephraim Morudu, came in a distant third with a paltry 1 258 votes, while the ruling party’s John Paradza had a hefty 12 147.
This is telling.
However, for Tshabangu, who has now seemingly assumed rockstar status, this is quite a decent count, especially coming as it does from someone who we were told was a nobody in CCC.
What might even be more hair-raising for the opposition party’s legislators who are still in Parliament is the dread of not knowing where the axe will fall next.
The Bishop imagines that each time they close their eyes to sleep, they are haunted by nightmares of a rampaging and menacing axe-wielding Tshabangu. Kikikiki.
It is a real-life horror movie.
The image of recalled legislators mobbing Speaker of the National Assembly to try and retain their seats in the august House last week showed the extent of the desperation that grips the opposition.
It has become more than apparent that if Tshabangu’s hand is not stayed by the courts, there might be more blood on the floor soon.
It would have been comical were it not tragic.
Paying the price
While the tragi-comic imbroglio and intrigue continue in the opposition, cholera — a medieval disease — is visiting and stalking our communities, even at the heart of the capital, Harare.
But both the muppet show and the cholera outbreak are an indictment of our seeming patience and tolerance to the wretched governance that has subsisted in our towns and cities since the turn of the millennium, when the opposition took over the affairs of urban local authorities.
Over the past two decades, malfeasance and misfeasance have become deeply entrenched in the administration of these local authorities, and with them, our cities have continued to unabatedly rot and fester.
The deterioration has been gradual.
And persistent cholera outbreaks, which have seemingly made the disease endemic in our communities, show the depths that we have sunk.
Between 2008 and 2009, we suffered perhaps the worst outbreak, as more than 4 000 lives were lost.
The disease reared its ugly head again in 2018, when 20 people were killed.
We do not have to sugar-coat it; as President ED said recently, cholera thrives in conditions of squalor, “in the absence of clean drinking water, and in circumstances of poor hygiene and sanitation”.
So, essentially, it is closely associated with “poverty-related vulnerabilities”.
This is hardly surprising.
Service provision has become topsy-turvy so much that we have since normalised the abnormal.
Generation Z — those born between 1996 and 2012 — and, worse, the current Ama2000 generation cannot even begin to understand the meaning of normal, as we used to know it.
They do not know the sensation of taking a shower, as all they know is using a bucket; they do not know the almost titillating sensation of drinking water directly from the tap; and they have never experienced the thrill of watering the garden using a hosepipe. Kikikiki.
For some of us, these are now just cherished memories of a bygone era.
ED, through sheer diplomatic chutzpah and administrative ingenuity, has done his bit through the incredible feat of mobilising resources to construct two major dams: Kunzvi (for Harare) and Lake Gwayi-Shangani (for Bulawayo).
By the end of next year, these two crucial dams will be complete, giving dwellers in the country’s two biggest cities a lifeline.
But his progressive efforts are, however, being tempered by the ineptitude of city fathers, which will make it difficult to channel water from these sources to parched communities, as the current infrastructure is not fit for purpose.
Suffice it to say, considering the infighting and chaos in CCC, it is inconceivable that the two local authorities would be able to rehabilitate the water conveyance infrastructure in time, which is a huge bummer.
Their foremost instinct at the moment, as Tshabangu stalks them, is self-preservation, particularly in the wake of the latest round of bloodletting.
Bishop Lazi told you recently that the centre no longer holds in our local authorities.
And whenever there is a power vacuum in leadership, chaos and lawlessness inevitably ensue.
The bitter recriminations and vicious fallout that currently plague the opposition, which runs our cities, mean it will only get worse.
Proverbs 30:33 says: “For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
Luke 11:17-18 adds: “But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul’.”
CCC is a kingdom — if we can call it that — divided.
And signs of criminal dereliction of duty by the city fathers, who are consumed with these internecine fights, are all around us.
The Mount Everest-sized heaps of uncollected garbage, which now invariably include used baby diapers, are overrunning the city, and with the rains now imminent, the rotting waste will soon find its way to our sources of raw water.
And those unregulated and illegal settlements, which are mushrooming in every open space, are a ticking time bomb, as most often their occupiers are building septic tanks close to wells they rely on for water for their day-to-day use.
While Government has since outlawed parallel housing development — where temporary dwelling structures are built while on-site and off-site infrastructure is being sorted — construction on unserviced land continues regardless.
Cities currently do not have sheriffs and have been left to residents to do as they please. The authority of law and regulations is no longer felt.
The lawlessness is just breath-taking.
You might have seen frenetic housing development on infills and open spaces of late.
Well, this is because in the lead-up to the August 23-24 elections, some councillors — doubting their chances of being chosen to stand as CCC candidates, especially after the split from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC, or being re-elected — sought a huge payday through parcelling out land.
Most of the open spaces were sold off without due regard to the by-laws and urban planning.
Along Coventry Road, houses are slowly coming up adjacent to the industrial area, near Belvedere.
It looks, walks and smells illegal.
The countdown continues
But the clock is ticking.
Those loafers in the corridors of power in our cities have been put on notice, and have until June next year to shape up, or the real authorities will step in.
We all know what this means.
The circus and drama in the opposition, while entertaining, cannot be allowed to continue. We have a country to build, an economy to grow and a future to recover.
Well-functioning cities are the hallmark of prosperous societies and have a transformative effect that can be felt by citizens.
Our journey cannot be complete if we do not rescue them from the suffocating grip of a clueless opposition.
But for now, it seems the Tshabangu political soap opera will continue for some time; in the process, eating precious time for the opposition.