Demand right to water: Lawyers

HARARE - Residents must push for the realisation of their right to water, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has said.

This comes as residents frequently go for days without the precious commodity in most cities and towns countrywide.

Speaking at a water summit organised by Act Alliance last week, ZLHR’s counsel, Belinda Chinowawa, said the right to water was being hindered by government’s misplaced priorities.

She said instead of harmonising laws that provide for the right to water, government was busy looking for power through Constitutional amendments.

“The slow pace in harmonising laws impacts negatively on the right to water. We have the water and policies but no clear law that provides for this right. Instead, now the Constitution is being amended to provide the ruling political party with more power while ignoring real issues that affect people daily, such as their right to water,” Chinowawa said.

“There is no legislative framework to give the right to water because the Water Act has not been aligned to the Constitution.”

Harare West legislator Jessie Majome said she has no faith in the judicial system, arguing it is too compromised.

She said as legislators, they have been waiting for the harmonisation of laws since the Constitution was enacted in 2013.

“Unless the courts have vested interests in a matter, issues such as these that provide the right to water will not be implemented. The Constitution is the Supreme law of the land and any other laws should be read in conformity with it but that is not happening,” Majome said.

Chra chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said despite Section 75 guaranteeing residents the right to water, nothing has happened because thousands still do not enjoy the precious commodity.

“The State should do everything possible and within available resources to provide water to the citizens. Even with the much-talked about Chinese loans, water provision is still a pipe dream in Harare. Residents in areas such as Mabvuku, Tafara and Glen Lorne have gone for more than 10 years without water and now in the high density suburbs residents are now surviving courtesy of donor agencies who have assisted through the drilling of boreholes,” Moyo said.

Masvingo mayor Hubert Fidze said while water was a right and needed to be provided for, it was not for free.

Fidze said there were many processes involved before water reaches residents.

“Water is not a free right because there are chemicals that are needed to purify it from its raw state then the distribution to residents. All this require to be paid for. But if citizens want it for free then there is a problem,” he said.

Harare deputy mayor Enock Mupamawonde said water fails to become a right because of the costs incurred in production, treatment and distribution.

“When you go to the point of production at any water treatment plant you will begin to appreciate why it cannot be free. People have to understand that as Harare we inherited a rotten system at Morton Jaffray water treatment works which we are now fixing at a high cost,” Mupamawonde said.

Despite the heavy rains the country received, many towns and cities such as Masvingo, Bulawayo and some parts of Harare are still experiencing water rationing.

Water ministry permanent secretary Prince Mupazviriho is on record saying that government had signed a deal for the construction of Kunzvi Dam to ease the water problems in Greater Harare, which has a combined population of more than four million.

He said Kunzvi Dam would also be constructed together with Musami Dam at an estimated cost of $600 million.

Mupazviriho said the actual cost of the construction of the dams would only be determined once comprehensive feasibility studies had been done and agreed upon by both parties.

“Provisionally we pegged the costs of both Kunzvi and Musami dams at around $600 million, however, that is a very crude figure. The financing model will be determined once there is a bill of quantities which include the construction of the pipeline to Donnybrook where the treatment works and plant will be. Kunzvi and Musami dams have a combined capacity of plus or minus 200 million mega litres,” he said.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.