High Court reserves judgement on water rights campaigner’s petition to avert water crisis

By Court Report

HIGH Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu on Thursday 3 October 2019 reserved
judgment on an urgent chamber application filed by Community Water
Alliance Trust (CWAT) seeking an order to compel President Emmerson
Mnangagwa and his government to urgently act and ensure the provision
of water to Harare residents and avert a crisis and potential loss of
lives including the outbreak of diseases.

Justice Tagu reserved judgment after hearing submissions from lawyers
representing CWAT and those representing City of Harare, Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Hon. July Moyo,
President Mnangagwa and Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural
Resettlement Minister Senator Perrance Shiri, who were cited as
respondents.

In the application, which was filed at the High Court on Wednesday 25
September 2019, CWAT represented by Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, wants President Mnangagwa to declare a state
of disaster in the capital to enable resources to be chanelled towards
the water crisis in Harare.

CWAT argued that despite the calamity of the water crisis, President
Mnangagwa had inexplicably not exercised his powers to declare a state
of disaster, which would allow for the intervention of central
government and donor support to avert a foreseeable imminent disaster.

Residents in most of Harare’s suburbs have gone for long periods
without access to running water after City of Harare announced on
Monday 23 September 2019 that it was shutting down Morton Jaffray
Water Treatment Plant citing foreign currency shortages to purchase
water treatment chemicals.

CWAT argued that local and central government’s failure to supply
safe, clean and potable water constitutes a breach of residents’
rights enshrined in section 77 of the Constitution and indicated that
the right to water is necessary for the enjoyment of other human
rights such as the right to life, human dignity, health and food.

The water rights campaigners said President Mnangagwa, Hon. Moyo,
Senator Shiri and City of Harare should find alternative means to
supply safe, clean and potable water to the affected residents of
Harare so as to avert a crisis and potential loss of lives and
outbreak of diseases.

In response to the CWAT’s application, both City of Harare and the
Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing argued
that they have taken all necessary action to address the water crisis
including examining alternative water purification methods so as to
reduce the number of chemicals and costs involved