High Court dismisses water provision challenge

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By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu on Wednesday dismissed an urgent chamber application filed by Community Water Alliance Trust (CWAT) seeking an order to compel President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to ensure the provision of water to Harare residents.

Justice Tagu upheld submissions filed by Local Government Minister July Moyo, who argued that water pumping at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant had resumed.

The water plant had been shut down when City of Harare ran out of chemicals for water treatment recently.

Tagu said there was no need to entertain the chamber application before he struck it off the roll of urgent matters.

“As for now, the urgency of the matter has been overtaken by events,” said the judge.

“The application will therefore be removed from the roll of urgent matters.”

In the application, which was filed at the High Court last week, CWAT represented by Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) petitioned the court to order  President Mnangagwa to declare a state of disaster in Harare.

It was argued that the call would allow for the raising of funds and enable resources to be channelled towards the water crisis in the capital city.

CWAT argued that despite the calamity of the water crisis, 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 then 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 .

They argued 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.