3-day Harare water shutdown 'unconstitutional'

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) has been slammed for violating the constitutional rights of Harare residents by cutting water supplies for three days without providing alternative safe water.

HCC principal communications officer, Michael Chideme, announced last week that the local authority was shutting down Morton Jaffray Water Works from Friday to Sunday to allow for the rehabilitation of the treatment plant. Water supplies were only restored starting on Monday.

While Chideme was adamant that the maintenance exercise will see the installation of new pipes that will improve output at household level, residents’ associations said the action constituted blatant abuse of their constitutional right to clean water.

Tendai Muchada, Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) advocacy and information coordinator, said HCC must not cut water supplies to residents without a court order.

“This is against a background of a new-constitutional clause found on section 77 which categorically states that ‘Every person has a right to safe, potable and clean water’,” he said.

“This means that water is an inalienable right with which no person or authority can prejudice to any individual by virtue of it being critical to human survival. A case in point is that of Farai Mushoriwa versus Harare City Council in which the court ordered council to restore supplies.”

Muchada says using international best practice, when a local authority cuts water supplies, it ensures that it does not totally close supplies, but makes it a point that water is still available, albeit in trickling quantities to ensure that one does not “die” due to lack of water.

“So in a normal arrangement, when council shuts down water, it is supposed to leave a meagre provision for one to flush, wash and drink in order to ameliorate diarrheal diseases. But the long and short of this is that water is a basic human right which must not be provided on commercial terms.”

Opposition MDC lawmaker Jessie Fungayi Majome said the council’s cutting of water supply without alternative water sources was unconstitutional as it fell short of the requirement in Section 77 of the Constitution requiring the State to take measures to ensure progressive realisation of the right to safe, clean and potable water.

“It should have maintained boreholes drilled and donated to it, for example by me with CDF,” Majome said.

“The Civil Protection Unit had and has a constitutional duty of cooperating with local authorities, and therefore has a duty to assist the municipality to provide bowsers as it evidently doesn’t have the capacity to do so, in order to avert sanitation disasters.

“Its attempts to encourage water stocking were inadequate given the limited media space in the country.”

Analyst Davison Gomo said there were “serious legal and moral issues that we need to reflect on and in my view, city fathers should not be allowed to carry on this way.

“This is a national scandal if you consider the children, the old and the sick.”

Comments (8)

Eish! You are making headlines because of three (3) days??? You need to visit Mavuku, Zimre, Ruwa. We go for MONTHS without water. If 3 days is a violation then we are being violated big-big time. We actually get surprised when there is water not when there is no water.

open eye - 15 January 2015

I am quite surprised that people are making noise about a 3 day shutdown of water supply. In Waterfalls we get water just for 2 days in a week. Is it not a violation of our rights when we are denied water for the other 5 days of the week.

Nesongano - 15 January 2015

saka kushaiwa kwako justify wrong doing here?In the name of tafanana?Zimbabweans ,learn from other countries to unite agains a bad thing.Dont take comfort that we are all suffering .Condemn the oppresser.Council slashed all residence bills in order to win elections now people are suffering as a result of cleared debts .Who suffered more the residence because there is no money

manu - 15 January 2015

3 days only and you are making noise about it? zvenyu....in Greendale we are always without water, we can go for two or three weeks, or even a month without water

Mai Lisa - 15 January 2015

Water in Harare was shut down during the days of Solomon Tavengwa ever since Harare has been without water . People are using buckets to flush their toilets with water from wells dug in front of their houses or from boreholes .No shower for people in Harare . If we had a govt this problem would have been fixed long time ago but unfortunately the country is at mess of chancers and gate crushers as the runners of this country . Even this plant they are fixing now was built by whites many many years ago to take care of a small now number of residents.

Diibulaanyika - 15 January 2015

where is @musona hama dzangu? any info? I do not agree with his idealogy but its nice just to see as many participating in these debates. he is my friend though he would scold needlessly.

taurai - 15 January 2015

If only we can change our mind set. This so called saying of 3 days without water is better than 3 weeks without water shows how primitive we are. Please lets desist from finding a better wrong doing in comparison with the worst when all in all everything is in the wrong side. I say be it 5 days or 5 years without water supply its just wrong.

kusafunga - 16 January 2015

We are so used to not having water that the city council can get away with something which in most countries would cause people to hit the streets to protest. Here we just take it on the chin and carry on!

pasm - 16 January 2015

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