New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: HIV+ Mabvuku Residents to Sue Harare Water Denial

OVER 200 HIV positive residents of Harare's Mabvuku suburb are preparing a joint civil suit against Harare city authorities they accuse of failing to provide clean, taped water in their homes to take with their medication.

The residents say they are being forced to take their medication with unhygienic water sourced from the high density suburb's unprotected wells.

Mabvuku, situated in Harare's eastern peripheries, has not had running water for nearly a decade.

The group has since approached the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) seeking legal advice on how they could successfully execute the legal challenge.

Stewart Sakarombe, one of the group members, told NewZimbabwe.com weekend they will soon be petitioning the local authority to meet their demands.

"We are seeking help from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to assist us in the processing of papers so that we can get permission to petition the relevant authorities so that we can get service delivery here in Mabvuku," he said.

The group, according to Emmanuel Gasa, also a member, has since informed Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni about the looming suit.

However, before they could lodge the marathon court process, the group intends to stage a sit-in at Town House, to register its discontent with the city fathers.

Nyasha Sani, who works with ZLHR's HIV, Law and Rights Unit, said they were prepared to assist the group, adding that access to clean water was a fundamental right.

"If the Constitution says they have a right to health, then where can they go for their challenges to be addressed? That means they have to organise and build up a case," said Sani.

Manyenyeni admitted that the council was struggling to provide water to most parts of the city. He said plans were in place to ensure all Harare residents had access to the scarce necessity.

"All Harare residents are entitled to water. It is our wish that at some point in the future, we will have the same quality of water that we had 20 years ago," said Manyenyeni.

Harare's water problems are well documented, having precipitated the 2008-2009 cholera outbreak that claimed over 4 000 lives while over a hundred thousand more were hospitalised over the disease.

The city has since been experiencing sporadic typhoid outbreaks especially in areas which are not receiving constant water supply.

Even those receiving taped water still have to subject the liquid to water treatment chemicals or simply boil it after it was condemned as unfit for immediate consumption.

Harare recently secured a $1.4 million loan from China to rehabilitate its failing water system, a move aimed at availing the necessity to all residential suburbs.

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