BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CHITUNGWIZA Town Council is being accused of posing a serious health threat to over 650 000 residents in the dormitory town by discharging raw effluent into rivers that provide water to the municipality, the court heard.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, represented by its director Mutuso Dhliwayo, recently successfully applied for an interdict at the High Court seeking to stop the municipality from causing and permitting discharge of raw effluent and hazardous substances into Muda Dam, Seke, Harava and Nyatsime rivers.
The application was granted by High Court judge, Justice David Mangota who ordered Chitungwiza to repair its water treatment plants and ensure proper treatment of effluent before discharge, within three months.
The court also ordered the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the second respondent in the matter, to assess the municipality’s compliance with the order and submit a report of the inspection to the registrar of the High Court within three months.
In his founding affidavit, Dhliwayo, who was represented by lawyer Advocate Agyver Sawunyama, stated that Chitungwiza municipality had failed to fulfil its duties of manging sewer systems and ensuring that residents had potable water as prescribed at law.
“This is a case which is absolutely necessary that the relief sought ought to be granted,” he pleaded.
“The harm caused by actions and inactions of the first respondent has created a serious and sustained health risk, which may result to devastating pandemics.
“I would not be exaggerating were I to surmise that the municipal area of Chitungwiza is a ticking time bomb for such mediaeval diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and others.”
Chitungwiza municipality had appeared before the environmental management board twice and found guilty on charges relating to poor management of effluent.
The council, however, did not follow the recommendations from the board and continued to violate the EMA statutes on waste management, according to the papers filed at the High Court.
“The various remedies adopted in the past therefore have no impact in deterring the first respondent from breaching its statutory duties or from repeating to commit the same offences.
“The applicant has no other remedies than that of seeking a prohibitory and mandatory interdict,” he stated.
In her latest audit report on urban councils, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri revealed that the local authorities were failing to attend to sewer blockages within 24 hours, resulting in raw sewage mixing with drinking water, giving rise to outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
She said the local authorities do not have modern equipment and technologies for sewer system inspection and maintenance.