The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that water disconnections by Local Authorities using the 1913 Water Regulations By-law (Statutory Instrument 164 of 1913) are above board.
This follows an appeal by the City of Harare against a High Court judgment in which a Harare resident, Farai Mushoriwa challenged arbitrary water disconnections at his premises.
Fear and questions have been raised on the implications of the ruling on citizens' right to water as enshrined on Section 77 (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
According to Community Water Alliance arbitrary water disconnections are retrogressive and not progressive.
"Moving forward, litigation against arbitrary water disconnections should also, on top of relying on Section 44, base legal reasoning on Section 86(2) on limitations of rights and freedoms. Local Authorities have other less restrictive means of achieving revenue collection, for example issuing summons. Future legal challenges against arbitrary water disconnections need to take all these arguments into consideration," said Hilda Rwambiwa national chairperson of Community Water Alliance.
Mushoriwa's court papers challenged substantive and procedural fairness of the water disconnection process by City of Harare.
He claimed that the by-law is ultra-vires Sections 198 and 69(2)(e) of the third schedule of the Urban Councils Act which have no provision allowing disconnections based on "the opinion of council on amount due".