The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has taken the Harare City Council to court in an urgent application compelling the authorities to avail water to residents currently under a national lockdown.
The case, which also cites the Minister of Finance, Minister of Health and the Minister of Local Government as respondents, accused the authorities of instigating a lockdown without making provisions for water for the residents.
Following the declaration of a national lockdown to fight the Covid-19 CHRA says the authorities “have not specified the steps that they will take to ensure that during the lockdown there is adequate and constant supply of clean and safe water to the residents of Harare in compliance with the Constitution”.
In papers filed at the High Court by Women and Law in Southern Africa, the organization’s legal representatives, CHRA contends that Council “has in previous times failed to ensure an adequate and constant supply of clean and safe water for the residents of Harare and its greater regions.”
“As a result of this most the city of Harare have had to either purchase water or drill boreholes to avert the crisis.
“The situation has not been similar in the high density areas where the supply of water has usually been once a month and they had to resort to getting assistance from UNICEF and other donors”, it said.
The organisation also accused the Finance Minister of failing to avail enough financial resources for Council to procure chemicals to treat the water sources or even specifying what steps the Ministry will take to avail the necessary financial resources to procure the required chemicals.
Scenes across most suburbs of Harare during the first day of the 21 day lockdown revealed that residents were still going out to gather at boreholes in search of water.
This is likely to defeat the whole purpose of the lockdown as they will be continuous human contact and interaction increasing chances for new infections.
The government has been accused of hastily copying foreign systems to fight the coronavirus without weighing the specific realities of the country which are making the lockdown faulty.
Challenges to do with electricity, employment and water have been cited as central issues which the government should have had clear plans about before declaring a lockdown.
Harare has been grappling with water shortages for a long time due to a number of challenges which include financial limitations, dilapidated infrastructure, polluted water and a growing population which the available dams can no longer serve adequately.
Kunzvi Dam which was touted as a solution to Harare’s water problems is yet to be completed over two decades after the project was launched.