1 November 2012

Zimbabwe: A Saviour for Thirsty Hatcliffe

One catchy biblical folk song that talks of goats that plough the fields when the beasts of burden, cattle, are there chewing cud can be taken to mean a complete role reversal - or a system failure. Harare City Council's failure to provide water for suburbs like Hatcliffe, in the north- east, has provided a ground for the re-enactment of this situation.

Harare City has blamed water shortages on Hatcliffe arguing that the suburb was one of the furthest and at the highest point in Harare. Pumping water to the suburb is therefore a major problem.

The city has a standing policy that all high- density suburbs should have water on a daily basis to avert the outbreak of diseases such as typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea.

Where the city has failed, 32-year-old Tonde Mudambo Jnr has stepped in to become the saviour of this thirsty sprawling suburb.

Mudambo, a resident of Hatcliffe, has literally taken over the duty of Harare City Council as he delivers water to the suburb's thirsty residents.

And, unlike the city, Mudambo does not charge for his services!

His water is free.

Mudambo's Good Samaritan act did not begin with providing water to the thirsty suburb.

"At first I repaired the roads in the suburb. I would hire a grader and employ some youth and women to repair the hotspots," he told The Herald.

It was during this exercise when he spent time in the community that he realised the extent of water problems in the suburb.

"I heard there was a broken down borehole. I went to inspect and ended up repairing it. I also transferred one of my submersible pumps from my farm and drilled another borehole," he said.

He decided to assist the community with water after seeing women wait in queues at unprotected wells hours on end and seeing children failing to attend school because they had to look for water for their respective families.

He was also touched by the price of water sold by water merchants in the suburb. Trucks would drive into the suburb selling water but the thirsty residents would only watch while the trucks snaked past their dirty and potholed roads as they did not have the money to buy the precious liquid.

Some families would carry water from their workplaces from as far as the city centre and also pay kombi fares for the water.

The Herald recently stumbled upon Mudambo's project.

Groups of women fetching water at different points were observed.

What caught the eye was that the water was coming out of taps away from the homes.

Soon the news crew caught up with Mudambo and he gave his story.

He has also built benches for residents to rest while they wait for their turn to fetch water.

Recently, he bought a lorry to use in the philanthropic business.

The lorry carries bowsers to areas that are not yet served with reticulated water.

The women complained over water shortages from council supplies. "We have not had water for many years. It is only now through Mudambo that we can have water on a daily basis," said Ms Immaculate Pasi.

Mr Choppy Chipiro, who was pushing a wheelbarrow full of buckets said he was happy because of the "Good Samaritan". The Good Samaritan, typically says, he does not losing anything by assisting the community.

He also denies reports that he was driven by political interests.

"I am simply doing this for the people. I am driven by a desire to help. I also give cabbages for free from my farm to community groups to sell and make money. It is all about the community one lives in," he said.

The joy of seeing happy faces and possibly the community praises pushed him to do much more for the residents.

He has come a long way.

At first he used one of his kombis to deliver water.

He would pull a cart fitted with a bowser to deliver water rations to residents.

Soon the demand grew and he decided to construct water tanks which he reticulated into the suburb.

"I had done my survey and discovered that the local councillor and the city were doing nothing to assist the crying community.

"I am here to save the people. My dream is to have the whole suburb supplied with clean water on a daily basis," he said.

Council water is only available to residents towards month-end.

But Mudambo admits that he has not supplied a permanent solution to Hatcliffe.

"All I am doing is a relief operation. Usually such work is done by donor organisations," he said.

Serving the country is the young man's calling. He first came to fame when he played soccer for Highfield-based Black Aces.

He had a stint in the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams and hung his boots when Black Aces was relegated.

Having been a national servant (national team days) Mudambo still feels he has a national duty to play.

Hatcliffe is now his latest playing field where he is not ball-juggling but saving souls - for the water anecdote is "water is life".

He was born in 1980 in a family of three boys.

He went only as far as Ordinary Level education but his exploits both on the football pitch and in the community are above the ordinary. Mudambo is a farmer in the Glen Forest area. He is also a member of the Zanu-PF Borrowdale 2 district where he is the secretary for transport and welfare.

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