BY CHARLES LAITON/SILAS NKALA
HIGH Court judge Justice Owen Tagu has dismissed as not urgent, a chamber application that was filed by Community Water Alliance Trust (CWAT) seeking an order to compel President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to urgently address the water crisis in Harare, saying the application has been overtaken by events.
Two weeks ago, CWAT petitioned the High Court on an urgent basis after the City of Harare had issued a statement that it would soon stop pumping water to Harare from Morton Jaffray Waterworks, citing foreign currency shortages to purchase water treatment chemicals.
But Justice Tagu ruled that the urgency of CWAT’s application had been overtaken by “events” and upheld submissions filed by Local Government minister July Moyo, who had argued that pumping at Morton Jaffray water treatment plant had resumed following his intervention.
The judge said water problems in Harare have been ongoing and cannot, therefore, be said that the City of Harare has failed to provide the precious liquid to its residents. “What is clear is that the water crisis has been there for some time. The applicant (CWAT) did not take any action when the water crisis was persisting. It was jolted into action by the notice to cut off water due to shortage of chemicals,” Justice Tagu said.
“Water was restored, not as a response to the application or to defeat the application. The respondents (City of Harare, Local Government ministry), had already on their own taken measures to ensure that the residents get water. The urgency of the matter had indeed fallen away.”
In the application, which was filed by CWAT through its lawyer, Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the organisation wanted the court to order Mnangagwa to declare a state of disaster in the capital to enable resources to be channelled towards the water crisis in Harare.
CWAT had argued that despite the growing water crisis, Mnangagwa had inexplicably not exercised his powers to declare a state of disaster, which would allow for the intervention of central government and donor support to avert an imminent disaster.
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“The applicant says there will be no continuous supply of clean, safe and portable water in the future. Whether this will happen is a matter of speculation. The court cannot speculate that the respondents will not supply clean, safe and portable water in future. What is clear is that when this application was filed water had been restored and (currently tapes were running),” the judge said.