IT WAS a pleasing sight seeing the mayor of the City of Bulawayo together with some Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe pastors and their congregations getting dirty cleaning the streets.
Pastor kilton Moyo
A good start indeed and one hopes that council and the church have the guts and the capacity to build on this momentum something greater and long-lasting.
I am sure, however, by now, the streets that were cleaned on October are as filthy as they were before.
This makes me wonder whether such noble efforts will bear any fruits or it will just be some publicity stunts that vanish into thin air.
What then can we do and what is the challenge? We are beset by numerous challenges.
These are political, economical, social, cultural and spiritual challenges. However, all these challenges can be solved if we all joined forces.
I have had the privilege to grow up in a clean Bulawayo in the years past. Seeing the city in its current state makes my heart sick and makes me angry. In those days, everything was working well.
There were dust bins all over. Everyone knew where to place litter. The park was green and no one dared litter it. Egodini was a Zupco terminus and was clean. The market place was there and there was no stench.
What then is the difference now? What went wrong? In the early eighties, kombies were there and vendors were there, but the city was clean still.
I mean who is littering our streets in this manner.
The West? The imperialists? Who is doing this my country men? Is it lack of foreign currency or is it plenty of it? Could this be the work of sellouts and who are those?
I think we need all of us to come to a place where we rethink a lot of things and begin to align.
All we see on our streets is reflective of our spiritual, political, social and cultural condition as people.
It is a mindset issue and we need only ourselves to renew this mindset so we can enjoy the transformation we desire so much.
It is a fact we have economic challenges, but this cannot be an excuse to be careless and unprincipled.
How does it help our economic situation if we littered our own streets. Who gets sick? It is our own children and it is us who pay the medical bills.
It is very harmful for people to lose their sense of dignity in this manner. This is what I call real oppression, oppression by attitude.
The I-do-not-care attitude is a snare to our own civilisation as a people. It is only us, the people of Bulawayo, who can deliver us from this pit.
Let me go beyond the streets. I have visited some schools in the city especially the former group A schools.
Fences are down and in some schools there are potholes in the classrooms. Floors are dusty as no floor polish is available these days anymore.
I went to this one high school and found empty packets of “things” and these other “chips” inside lockers.
Instead of putting books in the lockers, students eat and then use the lockers as dust bins. They sweep and place all litter in lockers. I mean, what kind of thinking is this?
Where is MANAGEMENT in all this? These are schools responsible for producing the next generation of leaders and managers.
What would this kind of product do to a company when given an opportunity to lead? We are headed for more disaster if we continue in this manner.
Students write all kind of nonsense on walls and in toilets. This is a sign that management in institiutions is powerless.
To make our city clean again we need a complete rethink of numerous processes and deal with the current attitude of carelessness ruthlessly.
We cannot run away from the glaring truth that we have left things on their own for too long. Somewhere somehow, we need to own up and correct things. We were never supposed to fall this far.
What do we do urgently?
I suggest we:
- Place dust bins all over the city. Place these at least 50m apart. Business community, churches, council and individuals come together and make this a reality.
Council must reactivate its by-laws on cleanliness and hygiene and “persuade” all shops to clean up their surroundings and sanitary lanes.
All shops or owners of buildings be given an ultimatum to repaint their buildings.
Give the city a fresh look bantu! The population of the city is now high and the need for bins is therefore even higher.
- Carry out awareness campaigns against this attitude of carelessness. Filth is not part of human culture. I think it is the culture of demons, not us. People must accept responsibility.
Just look at the area west of Main Street from 1st Avenue to 13th Avenue!
It is hell on earth.
Where is our dignity as people?
Where is our pride.
Churches, politicians and all must team up and undo this cancer once and for all.
- There is too much vending on the streets. Almost everyone is selling something.
It’s vegetables, fruits, airtime, food, cigarettes all over.
Food is now sold in the open at Egodini.
What has happened to our hygienic standards.
We do not have to compromise the health of people just because we are faced with financial problems.
If we were responsible enough, we would sympathise with the Health ministry whose budget, no matter how huge, cannot cope with the demand.
We must be responsible.
I remember that as we swept along 6th Avenue, it was evident airtime strips, cigarettes stumps, vegetable portions and papers were the culprits. Then there were also the cans for whatever drink.
We can still control vending in the city without harassing anyone.
Vendors are citizens of this city I believe are responsible citizens and know between wrong and right.
Keeping within their designated areas and making sure their places/stalls are clean should be their core value.
Our people must learn to be responsible. It is our responsibility, all of us, to keep our environment clean.
I know it is hard times economically, but this does not make us fools as a people.
Dirt is a good breeding ground for demonic spirits.
We need to change our environment urgently.
Why should we be associated with dirt and litter as Africans?
- We just need to rise up all of us and clean ourselves up.
I have a huge challenge with these night spots particularly along Robert Mugabe Way and George Silundika Street.
They must be made responsible for the conduct of their clients who urinate on streets, trees and even buildings. This is inhumane and must be stopped.
They even urinate on cars and litter streets with empty bottles and cans. I think that this is not civilisation at all.
Making Bulawayo clean is a collective responsibility of all the citizens of this great city.
I invite all of us to rally behind Council and everyone else and make Bulawayo live again.
Africa must be saved.
Pastor Kilton Moyo is an author and social worker