“Punish the poor” policies

The first was “Load shedding”. ZESA / ZETDC / whoever – the parastatal, did not generate enough electricity to sell to everyone who wanted it. Wonderful plan (thought up by management!), just run off power deliveries to some places sometimes. Don’t tell them when or where, or keep to any schedule, just turn it off.

The result?

The rich people bought generators and inverters and batteries (imported and supplied by who?). So, when there was load shedding, they could still watch DSTV, keep the lights on, download on the computer. Businesses charged more for their products. Or shut down and sacked people. The economy ‘faltered’.

The poor – well, there was more of them because jobs were lost. But they (the ones who were connected) used less electricity. They sat in the dark. They had cold meals. They became less educated. They did not watch ZTV.

And we still do not really know why they could not generate the power. But we all assume it was because people would not pay for what they bought (why is it that people think they should receive, just because?) which was largely solved with prepaid meters. And the funds that did come in went to management rewards, and things other than maintenance and development of new power generation. The Namibians had to refurbish at Hwange, and the Mayor of Harare had to refurbish the Harare thermal power station.

Currently, we have “Demand Management” of water in the City of Harare. Again, the city cannot produce the water is asked for / needed. The city cannot even provide as much water as it did ten years ago! So, what do they do? They turn of the water to certain areas, whenever. Again, no published, or regular, or kept to times. Just, turn it off when it runs out, or needs to be fixed, or no one remembered to go back to the tap and turn it on. Again, a superb management decision.

The result?

The rich people, or industry, bought tanks and pumps or towers. When the water was on, the holding tank fills up. When there is no water, you pump from the holding tank, or gravity feed from your tank on a tower, and you have water. You do not even need to notice when there is, or isn’t, water. Or if you are far out and do not get water for years, you buy it from some company that sucks the water table lower with their boreholes. Or if you are rich, you sink your own borehole and hope it does not run dry from commercial extraction.

The poor – well, they get thirsty. Not that anyone recommends drinking Harare Municipal water, in fact the UN recommends against it! But they also lack cooking water, bath or shower water, water for home vegetable gardens. They got dirty, less hygienic (and some of these diseases spread to the rich too!), enjoyed shorter lives, enjoyed their shorter lives less.

Why does the ‘management’ in Zimbabwe have so little respect for the people, the majority of whom are poor (more so than at any time in our history). Why do they, why can they, disregard them to such an extent that they can develop and implement “punish the poor” policies?

Source: Michael Laban