Washing hands frequently is a simple daily routine,but it remains a privilege and luxury for those who do not have adequate water and sanitation services. The infectious disease outbreaks including the current global COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare how safe, clean, and potable water is essential in protecting human health.
On the 29th of July 2021, Gwanda residents woke up to dry pipes after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) disconnected the water supply to Gwanda Municipality over a ZW$ 181 million debt.
Dreading the ticking time bomb, Gwanda Residents Association approached the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) for advice on how to approach the issue.
The public interest law organisation realising that the residents had been prejudiced of their right to clean, safe and potable water as stipulated in Section 77(a) of the Zimbabwe Constitution then wrote to ZINWA.
In the official letter addressed to ZINWA, ZELA highlighted that, the residents had been prejudiced of their right to clean and potable water despite religiously paying their composite bills, while adding that the disconnection was done without a court order.
It is pleasing, to note that the Water Authority has since complied and restored water. The Gwanda Municipality tabled a plan on how to liquidate the debt. Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement also added his voice,
“The Ministry unreservedly apologises on behalf of ZINWA for having taken this last resort and drastic measure to induce payments and raise awareness among Zimbabweans of the need to pay for utilities, while urging authorities to prioritise services by paying for water timely. ZINWA, working with the Ministry, will strive to improve services in line with its mandate and constitutional requirements.”