Online activism delivering offline solutions


Residents of Paradise park neighbourhood in St Marys especially houses around Tashinga Street heaved a huge sigh of collective relief when a municipal service team resolved their ten year old toilet crisis in one day after irate residents organizing on the Chitungwiza Service Delivery Whatsapp Group engaged Chitungwiza authorities through the digital frontiers.

The development came as a bolt from the blue for the majority of residents interviewed by Chitownews team after their main sewerage reticulation system was condemned as dysfunctional  and no longer suitable by municipal supervisors in 2007. Since then municipal supervisors never attended to the problem and neglected the residents’ pleas.

“We did not expect it to happen any time soon because we were told that our problem was irresolvable”, said one Mai Masarira- a resident of the populous Paradise area near Chigovanyika shopping centre in St.Marys.

“They used to come and look around until they could no longer come. We then opted to use the bush system during the day and buckets during the night but the Dungwiza school yard was the dumping area which was a hazard to our environment and the school children too but we had no other option” continued Mai Masarira.

Admire Marendo a form 3 student at Zengeza two high said that he “never remembers using the toilet at home”.

“I have never seen the toilets working. We only used them (toilets) as bath rooms and an open drainage system allowing dirty water to run over the yard which compromised the health of children”.

“Growing up, I never  saw any council workers attempting to repair the system until recently and the problem that seemed impossible was resolved within an hour and to tell you the truth I am totally shocked that these toilets actually  work,” he continued.

The Chitungwiza Service Delivery Group member- Christina -who initiated the discussion of the sanitation crisis in Paradise area in the Chitungwiza Service delivery group said she was impressed with the successes achieved by the online engagement with decision-makers at Chitungwiza Municipality.

“The group and its participants especially public officials at Chitungwiza Municipality have all collaborated to achieve group objectives which are to highlight service delivery hotspots and represent the people’s needs and I think it is functional for the people of Chitungwiza on service delivery which at the end of the day.”

Group administrator- Albert Masaka said that the group is there to serve the people but he felt discouraged with the role played by the politically elected officials who seemed unaccountable.

“Elected officials should look back to the people who brought them into office….I think it is so depressing that someone is elected in to office and leaves the people the way he found them or even worse. The central question is of accountability! access to adequate sanitation is a matter of human dignity service delivery is essential for all human beings.”