A relative of former President Robert Mugabe who was denied a bulk water permit in Borrowdale has sought the intervention of the Ministry of Lands which is now pushing the Mazowe Council to grant the license illicitly.
The move is however being fought by the Harare Wetlands Trust which has come up with a petition against the granting of the license.
Alfred Tome, also designated as Chief Beperere, initially wrote to the Mazowe Catchment Manager requesting an urgent ZINWA bulk water supply permit, allegedly to use during the funeral of the late President Mugabe.
According to Tome, “there (was) not enough portable water at his (Mugabe) residence, the blue roof, for the multitude of mourners who (were) attending the funeral”, he said.
Tome has however continued pursuing the license even after the conclusion of the funeral.
However the Mazowe Catchment authorities, who oversee Borrowdale and Greystone Park areas from which the water would have been drawn refused the request.
“On 5 November 2019 the Chairman of the Mazowe Catchment Council wrote to Mr Tome dismissing the application, advising that the Mazowe Catchment Council and the Nyagui SubCatchment Councils resolved to ban all bulk water activities within residential areas”.
They argued that residents in these areas solely relied on the groundwater.
The Chief has however continued pursuing the license after writing to the Ministry of Lands which has in turn sought to pressure the Council.
A letter from the Ministry said “it is however our plea as Ministry (that you) waiver your resolution, considering the current critical shortage of portable water in the Greater Harare area and grant him (Alfred Tome) a short term renewable bulk water permit”.
The move to grant Tome the bulk water license however goes against a Statutory Instrument 206 of 2001 Water (Permits) Regulations which limits volumes of water that can be pumped for commercial purposes.
Legal sources have also revealed that in terms of section 34(8) of the Water Act, the only way to overturn the initial dismissal of Tome’s application would be if he were to appeal to the Administrative Court and not the Ministry of Lands.
The Harare Wetlands Trust contends that the authorities should “uphold the original decision to dismiss Mr Tome’s application for abstraction of bulk water in a residential area”.
“If Mr Tome challenge this decision, he has lawful remedy of appealing to the Administrative Court”, it says.
The commercial abstraction of water from Harare’s wetlands has severely decimated water levels and resultantly impacted the amounts of water that can be available to the rest of the capital city’s population.