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Zimbabweans endure chaotic service delivery

The year 2014 will go down as yet another year in which electoral promises from the ruling Zanu-PF government and local authorities have failed to translate into meaningful improvement in service delivery for long-suffering Zimbabweans.

Instead, people this year saw a further deterioration in the health delivery system, a slight improvement in water provision and sewer reticulation, while garbage collection remained sporadic with the Harare's central business district (CBD) turning into a jungle of vendors.

Many households occasionally endured long hours of up to 18 hours without electricity on consecutive days, despite the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) installing pre-paid meters in most households to help it manage demand and customer indebtedness.

Zesa cited the same old excuses of lack of investment in the energy sector, with its obsolete equipment suffering frequent breakdowns, while maintenance work at power stations was also given as another reason for power outages.

While incessant water and power cuts were among a plethora of hardships that continued to dog Zimbabweans in the year, controversial house demolitions, some nocturnal, by council compounded the plight of residents. Job losses in a tough economic environment and decaying infrastructure have not made things any better for the country.

If there was a grain of truth in President Robert Mugabe's claims in July that things were starting to get better, he was obviously not referring to service delivery and the economy.

The signing of several deals and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the Chinese and Russians did not bring any change for the better. Numerous groundbreaking ceremonies by government have failed to bear any fruit over the years.

One such event was former transport minister Enos Chikowore's famous ground-breaking ceremony across the Hunyani River for the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line which has not been constructed despite the preliminary assessment (technical and economic) being completed in May 1987.

This year, Zimbabwe signed a US$144,4 million loan deal with China for improvements in water and sewerage reticulation. There was controversy when it was revealed the Harare city fathers had used part of the money to buy 25 luxury vehicles yet water shortages remained critical with some suburbs going for the whole year without running water, creating a major health hazard and raising fears of a cholera outbreak.

Mugabe also went to China in August where deals and MOUs were clinched in the development of power projects, road dualisation and railway line construction, subject to project feasibility studies.
However, the deals remain pie in the sky as no funding has been availed yet.

In any case, many of the deals touted as transforming the country and improving people's lives are shrouded in opacity amid graft allegations, with the Kariba South Power Station Extension Project's costs ballooning from an initial US$355 million to US$533 million under suspicious circumstances.

With Zanu PF's controversial general elections victory in 2013, the health sector suffered the most as the Health Transition Fund, created during the inclusive government era (2009-2013), was abolished.

During the days of the inclusive government, the National Health Strategy for Zimbabwe was adopted and the health se
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