Redcliff residents sue council

BULAWAYO - Redcliff residents have dragged their council to court for failing to provide water and a proper sewer reticulation system.

The 482 residents under the Torwood Redcliff Rutendo Ratepayers Association (Torra) cited the Redcliff Municipality as the only defendant in the case.

The suit was filed at the High Court here.

According to the court papers, the residents are occupants of the houses that were previously owned by Ziscosteel and handed over to the council on the understanding that the houses would be upgraded and ownership transferred to the residents. Ziscosteel — once Africa’s largest steelworks — has retrenched all its workers at its Redcliff plant in Midlands.

The lay-offs follow the collapse of a deal with India’s Essar group. Essar won the bid to take over Ziscosteel against competitors, including ArcelorMittal and Jindal Steel, with the takeover hyped at an elaborate 2011 event attended by President Robert Mugabe and his then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The deal faced headwinds over iron ore mineral rights that had been written in, but which hawks in Mugabe’s government opposed vehemently.

After the transfer of the Ziscosteel homes to ex-workers, council was supposed to offer services to the residents which include water supply, a sewerage system and public lighting as well as upgrading all substandard houses.

To the contrary, the residents — who are being represented by Gundu and Dube legal practitioners — claim that they are being billed on a monthly basis for services they are not receiving.

“In the locations of Torwood, Redcliff and Rutendo, there is no adequate and reliable safe water supply.

“The defendant has failed, refused and neglected to establish a good water supply and the residents are using common taps and boreholes and are having difficulties in getting water for consumption,” said Lazarus Dube, the Torra chairperson, in his founding affidavit.

Dube said as a result, the residents are now forced to source water from the nearby rivers, Kwekwe and Njomani.

“Despite this, the council however, still charges fixed water charges of $12,90 per month when there is no fixed water supply.

“As it is, there is no sewer system in Torwood, Redcliff and Rutendo areas and the council directs raw sewerage into water bodies mainly Kwekwe River and Njomani River from which rivers the residents get water for use after failing to get adequate water from the council,” Dube said.

The residents also accused the local authority of failing to collect refuse for years while they collects $3 monthly for a service not provided.

The residents further accused the local authority of defying the 2015 ministerial directive that all local authorities should facilitate the immediate transfer of ownership of houses under home ownership schemes to tenants who have rented council accommodation for a period of over 20 years.

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