Sungura kingpin and Zimbabwe Red Cross Society humanitarian ambassador Alick Macheso’s Chegutu concert which was supposed to be held on Friday was cancelled due to outbreak of cholera in the farming town.
The concert which was pencilled for Gatsi Sports Bar was cancelled by the Civil Protection Unit fearing the disease might be fuelled by the presence of large crowds under one roof.
“We sat down as a committee and we resolved that it was in the best interest of the public if the show was cancelled. Macheso’s concert is not the first event to be cancelled, last week we cancelled ZCC church gathering because of the same reasons.
We assess the number of people to attend the event against availability of ablution facilities at the area. We are just trying to contain the situation as much as possible. The number of cholera cases has since risen to 93,” Chegutu district administrator Tariro Tomu who doubles as Civil Protection Unit chairperson said.
The ZRCS humanitarian ambassador supported CPU decision saying the move was in the best interest of the public.
“As Orchestra Mberikwazvo band and ZRCS we have welcomed the decision because we put health first.
“As ZRCS we are here to alleviate if not eradicate disasters such as disease outbreaks, hence there is no way we can be seen spreading the diseases,” Macheso said.
“The band and the joint owner shall fix another concert when we feel it is safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, Macheso spent the entire day (Friday) spreading awareness by giving out cholera reading material as well as talking to residents through road shows.
The Tafadzwa hit maker was preaching the gospel around personal hygiene including the importance of proper hand washing, use of toilets and encouraging pupils to consume clean and hot food among others.
Macheso brought business to standstill everywhere he passed through, leaving residents across demographic structures marvelling while others followed him for kilometres.
Apart from using artistes to fight cholera, Red Cross recently donated 300 buckets of water and 200 jerry cans to residents of Chegutu in their efforts to curb the disease which so far has claimed the lives of four people since last month.
The real source of cholera in Chegutu is not yet established as water wells were tested and it was found out that the wells were contaminated but not with cholera germs.
On January 19, the number of suspected cholera cases was 18 and the first case was that of an 80-year-old woman who died on January 8.
It was reported that three men subsequently died after getting in contact with the women’s body while preparing it for burial.
Member of Parliament for Chegutu West Dexter Nduna recently told the Daily News that investigations have established that the outbreak was due to the prevailing shortage of potable water in the town, which forced some residents to drill a hole into the main water pipeline, resulting in sewer from a bust pipe flowing into it.
He said: “The major reason for the outbreak has been scarcity of piped municipal water and dilapidated sewer pipes. Sewer has been trickling into the main water pipeline which was vandalised by some residents. Burst sewer pipes then discharged effluent into the water system which had been perforated by residents seeking potable, treated water”.
He added that unless the water situation was resolved, such outbreaks would continue to happen.
Chegutu requires 22 mega litres of water everyday but the municipality is only treating 12 mega litres.
Of that, only three mega litres is going into the homes while the rest is lost in transit due to the deplorable state of the pipes.
The current water system was meant to cater for just 4 000 people, but the town now is home to over 25 000 people.
Chegutu has been a cholera hotbed for a long time.
In 2009, there was a cholera outbreak in the town which claimed 30 lives.
The outbreak, came after the deadliest ever cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe which killed at least 6 000 people in 2008 across the country.
Chegutu was one of the worst affected areas.
Zimbabwe has been on high alert since the outbreak of cholera in Lusaka and has reactivated its emergency response teams to deal with any case that could arise.
The outbreak in Zambia has affected at least 3 000 people and claimed more than 70 lives so far.
The epidemic has spread to other southern African countries, especially Namibia and Malawi where it has killed eight and four people respectively.
The outbreak comes when government has stepped up cholera control in Kariba and Chirundu border towns to forestall transmissions from travellers coming in from Zambia.
There does not appear to be any relationship between the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and that which broke out in Zambia as none of the affected people had travelled to the neighbouring country.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholera.
Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea. It takes between 12 hours and five days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water.