A number of resident organisations across the country will likely to have to accept empty High Court victories following revelations that Treasury is yet to release funds for the more pressing Covid-19 needs.
A number of residents organisations among them Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) recently won their cases against the combined Ministries of Local Government, Finance, Health and their local Councils where they sought orders to push for the availing of water.
The High Court duly ordered the respective Ministries to fulfil their duties with the Ministry of Finance ordered to provide financial support to the Councils.
A Broke Treasury
However reports state the Ministry of Health, under pressure to fund the acquisition of personal protective equipment and other vital supplies for the Covid-19 response, has also approached the High Court accusing the Ministry of Finance of failing to avail US$200 million.
In its submission the Ministry of Health said it had submitted a budget of US$199 344 544 to fight Coronavirus but the government instead pledged to provide a paltry $20 million.
In the 2020 budget Treasury allocated the Health Ministry $5,6 billion which falls way off the mark considering both the hyper-inflationary situation in the country and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The revelation that Treasury is failing to fund the Covid-19 fight is bad news for the various resident organisations which have been pushing for the provision of water in various cities and towns across the country during the national lockdown.
Empty Victory for Residents
In papers filed at the High Court by Women and Law in Southern Africa, the CHRA’s legal representative, the organisations argued 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.
However despite winning their cases the fulfillment of the order now hangs in balance as Treasury appears totally incapable of availing the funds needed by Councils to provide clean and safe water for the residents.
Many residents have continued assembling at boreholes in scenarios that are dangerous and defeat the whole purpose of the lockdown.