#CORONAVIRUS: Residents demand water in battle to combat deadly epidemic and avert a crisis

A RESIDENTS’ representative group has hauled Chitungwiza Municipality
and central government to court seeking an order compelling them to
urgently act and ensure provision of water to residents at a time of
the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

In an urgent chamber application filed at High Court on Tuesday 31
March 2020, Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) protested against
the pro-longed lack of running tap water supplies and said residents
were experiencing erratic and at times no provision of safe and
adequate water for domestic use.

The situation, Chitrest argued has now been compounded by the
imposition of the 21-day national lockdown to help combat the
coronavirus outbreak.

Chitrest said Chitungwiza Municipality and central government had
failed to discharge their constitutional obligations of ensuring the
provision of running water to residents and this was a breach of
several of residents’ fundamental rights such as the right to water as
provided in section 77 of the Constitution, the right to human dignity
guaranteed in section 51 of the Constitution, the right to health care
enshrined in section 76 of the Constitution.

The residents also said their right to freedom from torture guaranteed
in section 53 of the Constitution was also being violated and this was
arising from the conduct of respondents, who besides Chitungwiza
Municipality were listed as Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing Minister July Moyo, Health and Child Care Minister
Obadiah Moyo and Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli
Ncube.

In the application, Chitrest together with its Director Alice Kuvheya,
who is also a resident of Chitungwiza located about 25 kilometres
outside Harare and are represented by Tonderai Bhatasara and Tinashe
Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, charged that
members of Zimbabwe Republic Police were dispersing several people
gathered at various water points including public and private
boreholes to fetch water for domestic use.
Lack of access to water, Chitrest said, was leading to the violation
of the right to life provided under section 48 of the Constitution
directly or indirectly through contracting deadly diseases that are
waterborne. The risk, the residents argued, was further magnified by
the outbreak of coronavirus which requires greater hygiene that
includes washing hands with soap and water, which is only possible if
there is potable water for domestic use.

Chitrest argued that in order for residents to fully comply with
government regulations and the spirit of the national lockdown as
urged by Moyo, the Health and Child Care Minister and in collaboration
with some international organisations such as World Health
Organisation, it is imperative that all people must exercise personal
hygiene and therefore some measures must urgently be put in place for
them to access water in their homes or at some points in a manner
which will not increase the spread of coronavirus.

Chitungwiza Municipality and central government, Chitrest said, have
neglected or refused to put such measures or to comply with their
constitutional obligations.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said must during the duration of
the national lockdown period ensure provision of safe, adequate,
potable and uninterrupted water supply to all residents of Chitungwiza
and make water available from bulk water suppliers including
indicating the location of the water bowsers and distribute it in
Chitungwiza to avoid the grouping of big crowds at the water points in
a way that ensures the combating of the spread of coronavirus.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said should provide crowd control
officers to ensure that people accessing water at various points do so
in a manner complying with the social distancing guidelines as
specified in various and lockdown directives issued by government.

Ncube, Chitrest said, must provide financial resources to implement
measures to ensure provision and access to water by residents.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said should periodically notify the
residents’ representative body and residents of Chitungwiza on safety
and general hygiene that is water related in light of the coronavirus
through all medium of communication and such should also be accessible
to people living with disabilities and the visually impaired and the
deaf.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.