HARARE residents have given City of Harare (CoH) a five-day ultimatum to end perennial water shortages in several high-density suburbs in the capital city and help avert the outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and Marian Chatambira, a resident of Dzivarasekwa suburb in Harare, engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who on Friday 13 October 2023 wrote a letter to the Director of Works at CoH asking the local authority to restore water supplies to residents in four high-density suburbs of Dzivarasekwa, Budiriro, Glen View and Mabvuku, which have gone for several years without adequate and constant supply of safe and potable running water.
Through the letter, Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya complained that residents living in these suburbs have been experiencing severe problems in accessing running and potable water from their taps and had been forced to resort to fetching water for consumption and daily use from shallow wells and do not know whether the water from the underground wells is safe for consumption or not.
The residents, Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya said, fear that the lack of running potable tap water places them at the risk of contracting the cholera disease particularly at this point in time, where there is a cholera outbreak in the capital city.
The human rights lawyers said the exposure to the likelihood of contracting diseases is a violation of the residents’ right to a safe and healthy environment as guaranteed in terms of section 73(1) of the Constitution.
CoH, Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya said, has failed to achieve progressive realisation of the right to safe, clean and potable water for residents of Harare, which is guaranteed in section 77 of the Constitution.
To stop the violation of the residents’ right to water and healthcare, the human rights lawyers then gave CoH a five-day ultimatum to restore adequate and constant supply of safe, potable running tap water in Dzivarasekwa, Budiriro, Glen View and Mabvuku high-density suburbs including supplying bowsers with safe and potable water in these areas.
Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya also asked CoH to furnish them with the local authority’s water policy and a plan on how it intends to rectify the perennial water shortages in the capital city.
Failure to comply with their demand, the lawyers said, would leave them with no option but to institute legal proceedings to obtain appropriate relief in court.