Thousands of residents of Harare's Glenview district turned out Friday to protest the longstanding watershortages the southern suburb has experienced as well as the poor quality of the water that households are receiving, local sources said.
Demonstrators bearing placards denouncing Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Harare Commission Chairwoman Sekesai Makwavarara dumped trash at a local council office. No police intervention was reported, as the demonstrators scattered quickly after staging the protest.
Even members of the the ruling party have criticized Chombo and Makwavarara for poor service delivery. William Nhara, ZANU-PF spokesman for Harare province and a communications aide to President Robert Mugabe said Makwavara's incompetence put in jeopardy the ruling party's chances of winning Harare elections. He accused Makwavaraa's commission of putting "self-aggrandisement projects" first.
Analysts warn such demonstrations could spark wider protests against the Mugabe government. Similar protests have occurred in Budiriro and Dzivarasekwa.
For an inside perspective on Friday's protest, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Costa Machingauta, a resident and participant in the demonstration who estimated that some 4,000 people took part.
Elsewhere, Kuwadzana residents without electricity for the past two weeks seemed likely to remain in the dark even longer after electrical sub-station feeding the high density Harare suburb caught fire. Residents said flames broke out at the facility as Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority employees were making repairs to it.
Zesa engineering manager Peter Nyandiya said the state utility is looking into what he called a “minor problem” at the Kuwadzana sub-station. Nyandiya said damage of some $Z15 million was incurred, affecting an estimated 100 households.
But Kuwadzana resident Fiona Mazivanhanga told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the problem is anything but minor from the local standpoint given that the disruption of electrical power has hampered the livelihoods of about 5000 people.