By Nhau Mangirazi
Twenty-two year old Moses Munatsa is an upcoming jazz musician based in Caledonia Phase 10 about 20 kilometres east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
“It used to be a challenge as I had to travel into town or visit relatives in Mabvuku where there is electricity to do my recordings over the phone. To date, I have done over 50 songs (that are) yet to be recorded officially. I normally use my smartphone for that and the battery does not last long,” he says.
As is the case with several youths and women resettled in Ward 25 Caledonia in Harare East, Munatsa faced challenges in accessing better facilities including electricity.
However, he now smiles in the comfort of their three-roomed house where he is recording his songs with ease and without thinking of transport fares into the city centre or visiting relatives to access electricity.
Caledonia currently faces an identity crisis with Harare East Member of Parliament Terrence Mukupe claiming it is within his jurisdiction while the local councillor Dereck Malifundi, reports to Goromonzi Rural District Council within Goromonzi South Constituency represented by Member of Parliament Petronella Kagonye.
“We currently do not have electricity here but we are using small solar powered panels to access radio (signals) as well as charging our phones. With that, I am recording my music on my phone regularly without any challenges,” he says.
Those resettled in Caledonia since 2000, have not benefited from the electrification programme.
‘We have seen the poles and wires that were installed but nothing has been done to bring power into our homes. We are getting … alternative (energy) through small solar panels that we use as clean energy for lights, radio and charging our phones,” said a local teacher.
Thirty-three year old Gladys Banda of Phase 3, admits that lack of electricity has been a challenge for many people here.
“The majority of us had no homes of our own in the city centre. We needed a roof over our heads and we hoped that electricity would soon be connected in our area,” says Banda, a mother of three.
Councilor Malifundi agrees the ward is still developing and faces many challenges in the form of roads, clinics and schools, among others.
‘We hope things will move according to our plans. We are aware of the electricity challenges, but better days are coming,” he said without shedding much light on future plans.
Meanwhile, Kagonye admits the ward faces numerous challenges since it emerged as an unplanned settlement. The ward started off with nearly 5,000 stands in 2000. The figure has since risen to 54,000 stands and an estimated population of 100 000.
‘There has never been infrastructure provision including that of water and electricity. We have a high concentration of people … including a co-operative of the physically challenged with more than 250 members.
“As a result, women suffer more as fuel wood is no longer readily accessible. Generally, use of solar powered small panels has been the solution in most homes for lighting and charging mobile phones,” she said.
Kagonye said the community should embrace renewable energy alternatives such as solar and biogas. This would be a better solution than having to wait to be connected to the national grid which is already struggling to service connected areas.
Munyaradzi Kaundikiza, an environmentalist, said energy is the key input in the socio-economic growth of communities and the nation at large. He said there is a close link between availability of energy and the growth of a nation.