By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Community Water Alliance (CWA) says it is capacitating residents through paralegal training so that they can be able to influence a review of the country’s Water Act which gives the Minister too much power at the expense of the citizens.
Most major cities in the country are facing water shortages due to various reasons that range from unavailability of sources, dilapidated equipment, and failure to acquire treatment chemicals among many other reasons.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a 3-day paralegal training held recently in Glenview, CWA programs manager Hardlife Mudzingwa said residents were critical in terms of influencing the needed changes to the Act.
“What we are doing here is to capacitate residents to be able to influence their councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs) to amend the Water Act.
“The problem with the current Water Act is that the responsible minister for water provision yields much power as stated in Section 6 ‘the minister is mandated to ensure availability of water to all citizens for primary purposes’ and this excludes citizens,” he said.
Mudzingwa also added that the ‘archaic Government Notice 164 of 1913’ which upholds water disconnection to defaulters by local authorities should be reviewed.
“Our view is that considerations should also be taken in reviewing the old Government Notice 164 of 1913 which is being used by most local authorities to disconnect water for defaulting residents.
“The by-law is retrogressive,” he added.
According to the Government Notice Statutory Instrument 164/1913, councils need to only give 24 hours’ notice to defaulting parties before disconnections.
Municipalities were also empowered by a 2018 Supreme Court judgment which ruled that disconnecting water for defaulters does not in any way contravene Section 77 of the country’s constitution.
One of the participants at the training, Tidings Jinya said he was now confident and felt empowered to track and report water rights violations.
“The workshop has been an eye-opener to most of us as we are now privy to various provisions in the constitution that support the right to water and we will be able to pursue that accordingly,” Jinya said.