Rights commission probes Harare city

Harare Acting Town Clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube, flanked by Director of Engineering Services Phillip Pfukwa (left) and Engineer Calvin Chigariro, when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry yesterday. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Harare Acting Town Clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube, flanked by Director of Engineering Services Phillip Pfukwa (left) and Engineer Calvin Chigariro, when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry yesterday. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter—
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is investigating whether or not Harare City Council’s poor service delivery caused gross violations of residents’ rights, resulting in a typhoid outbreak which claimed two lives and left 150 people hospitalised.

The City of Harare has been under MDC-T-led councils since the turn of the millennium and the indifference of the city fathers has manifested in unplanned settlements, deteriorating service delivery and the kombi and vendor menace, all of which have been touted as ticking time bombs by urban planners.

The MDC-T-led council is also being investigated for “unplanned” allocation of residential stands on unsuitable land, leading to flooding and loss of property, as well as the Pomona dumpsite smog incident that poisoned the atmosphere for weeks.

The commission, which has since started interviewing residents, has said it will also engage Government and council to ensure the rights of citizens, including environmental and health rights, are protected.

Speaking at a meeting with civic society and the Combined Harare Residents Association, ZHRC chairperson Mr Elasto Mugwadi said: “There is an issue of accountability. When you elect the city fathers, you expect them to deliver. We have to conscientise the city fathers of their responsibilities. In other countries, diseases like typhoid no longer exist.

“Are we doing enough to get rid of such diseases? The commission will be meeting with Health and Child Care Minister (Dr David Parirenyatwa), the city fathers and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister (Cde Saviour Kasukuwere) to make sure that our findings are addressed.”

In a statement, ZHRC said it noted with concern that local authorities were not adhering to Section 168 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15), and Sections 57 to 59 of the Environment Management Act (Chapter 20:27) that compel them to work on the construction and maintenance of proper sewer and drainage systems.

“This has resulted in blockage of the urban drainage systems and overflowing of effluent, worsened by the current rains. Burst sewer pipes, and overflowing effluent resulting in unsafe water and poor sanitation are an affront to the enjoyment of the rights to a safe environment and to health by residents. In Harare, uncollected refuse has become breeding ground for disease,” said ZHRC.

The Commission said the reported cases of typhoid were in Harare’s Mbare, Budiriro and Glenview suburbs.

It said this had further compounded the infringement of citizens’ right to a clean and healthly environment, which is harmful to their health, and that infringement to the right to health in turn infringes on the citizens’ right to life.

The city’s health director, Dr Prosper Chonzi, is on record admitting that poor service delivery was the key driver of the typhoid outbreak. The ZHRC also castigated the allocation of residential and commercial stands on unsuitable land, as this has led to floods in areas like Mbare.

Council recently acknowledged that it did not plan properly for the construction of a shopping mall in Mbare, resulting in flooding of homes. A fire in Pomona, the capital’s largest dumpsite, last year made life a living hell for residents in the leafy suburbs of Borrowdale and Marlborough. Smog that engulfed the area forced some residents to temporalily leave their homes.

Combined Harare Residents Association director Mr Mfundo Mlilo said civic society believes that ZHRC has a role to play to make Harare City Council account for deaths caused by typhoid.

“We met as civic society organisations over the typhoid outbreak which has become a perennial problem. People have come to accept that this is normal and no-one talks about the deaths. One of or resolutions was to involve state actors like ZHRC,” he said.

Other organisations, including the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights and Chitungwiza Residents Trust also implored the ZHRC to act on the decline of service delivery in most councils.

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  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    MDCT led municipalities have suffered from poor leadership over the years! This is akin to MDCT leadership failing political apprenticeship before they can aspire for higher offices in our motherland. To a large extent, this explains why the electorate has refused to politically promote MDCT leadership to lead this country, at central government level. Come 2018 , ZANU PF will reap its God ordained success in the harmonized elections. We sincerely praise the Lord. Amen!

  • MkanyaGP

    Lets call a spade a spade: With all the political intimidation and meddling by Chombo and Kasukuwere, we will never see the MDC-T run cities performing to their fullest. Stop meddling in the affairs of the cities and give them utmost support and you will see them flourishing..!

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Your MDCT view is too foolish in respect of sanctions , which your party foolishly supports. We took back our land and your Western MDCT sponsors imposed sanctions to disrupt our economic system. They have been making a satanic count down hoping our government would collapse so that they can install stooge Tsvangirai as puppet regime leader. The economic conditions you are lamenting and wrongly accusing ZANU PF government for , are mainly because of the satanic sanctions. It is difficult for informed Zimbabweans , like me , to educate stooges of the West like you on the damaging effects of sanctions. Fortunately the majority of Zimbabweans are not misguided like you and will continue to vote for ZANU PF until we defeat the sanctions and bury all stooges at the political Sellouts Acre in UK! Money is only a medium of exchange which oils an efficient economic system . Your political allies who imposed sanctions can answer your question about basic amenities scarcity because of sanctions. Period.

    • gabarinocheka

      Gadhaffi is laughing down on his foolish people.before they were cheated into betraying him they were living in the land of honey and milk now they die every day trying to reach far away lands they are not even welcome.what kind of democracy is that

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Any fingered person is legally presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. Law enforcement agents require concrete evidence to convict a person.

  • gabarinocheka

    No you are