A Harare man has sued government and a local authority over their failure to contain the outbreak of the deadly cholera disease, which has claimed the lives of more than 150 people in the troubled southern African country.
In an urgent chamber application filed at Harare High Court, Wellington Mariga, a resident of Kuwadzana high-density suburb in Harare, faulted City of Harare (CoH) and Local Government and Public Works Minister Hon. Chitando and Health and Childcare Minister Hon. Douglas Mombeshora for dereliction of duty by letting the cholera pandemic to continue for a protracted period of time since its outbreak in February 2023 resulting in Zimbabwe recording a high number of cases and deaths.
Mariga, who is represented by Shadreck Masike of Shomwe and Partners Attorneys and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, argued that both local and central government had statutory and constitutional obligations to provide adequate, constant, clean and potable water and had consistently failed to improve the provision of water in Harare to alleviate the cholera outbreak.
The Kuwadzana resident charged that despite CoH declaring a state of emergency due to the cholera epidemic, the local authority had failed and neglected to provide adequate and reasonable supply of potable clean water to Harare residents and particularly those residing in Kuwadzana.
Mariga argued that the lack of provision of clean and safe drinking water to some suburbs in Harare were exposing residents to the risk of contracting cholera.
He told the court that he had a front seat experience of the devastating effects of a cholera outbreak of 2008, where he lost his friends and some family members and hence he cannot sit and allow the same scenario to repeat itself when such a consequence could be mitigated by supplying clean and safe drinking water.
Mariga bemoaned that residents were relying on harvesting water from shallow wells and boreholes and the erratic water supplies to suburbs of Harare had left him and other residents at high risk of contracting cholera.
He argued that the failure to provide water to residents by CoH is a violation of the right to water provided in section 77 of the Constitution and is also a violation of the right to health guaranteed in section 76 of the Constitution.
He charged that the obtaining cholera outbreak demands the implementation of extraordinary interventions to improve the water supply in Harare and this could be aided by the deployment of water bowsers to suburbs with little to no access to adequate, constant, clean and potable water.
Mariga asked the High Court to grant an order directing CoH to immediately supply adequate, clean and potable water so that Harare residents can access water from water taps or water bowsers.
The CoH, Mariga demanded, should also be ordered by the High Court to supply a schedule for the immediate deployment of water bowsers to Kuwadzana high-density suburb to his lawyers within 24 hours of the granting of the court order.
Judge President Justice Mary Zimba-Dube will on Friday 1 December 2023 preside over hearing and determination of Mariga’s urgent chamber application.