Residents lose school case

Fidelis Munyoro
Chief Court Reporter

AN association that represents Harare residents has failed in its High Court bid to obtain a court order compelling the City of Harare, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to establish a public primary school in Tynwald South.

The High Court dismissed the law suit on the grounds that the council and the two ministries were fully prepared to build the school, and were certainly not refusing to build it, but that there were delays because of a dispute over the site, with the residents wanting a different site from that offered by the city council.

Since the matter was now being tackled, there was no need for any order, the court ruled.

The residents wanted the city council and the two ministries, all listed as respondents, to ensure that a public primary school was built in the area on the land set aside in the plans for that school.

Through the Harare Residents Trust, parents and caregivers argued that it was Government policy that a primary school was established for every 600 households.

In this case, the area has expanded, with more than 1 200 households, but so far neither the council nor the education ministry had provided the primary school, and the council had not fulfilled other service obligations such as opening a clinic.

There are many private schools in the area, but low-income families had limited options to enable their children to access education.

So the residents went to court seeking an order declaring that the failure by the city council and the education ministry to establish a public primary school in Tynwald South was a violation of rights of children from low-income households in the area, in particular the right to education, and did not meet the best interests of the child, among other rights protected in the Constitution.

While the Harare Residents Trust sought the court to make a declaration that the City of Harare, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education were in violation of the Constitution for denying Tynwald South children access to affordable education by not building a public school in the suburb, Justice Tawanda Chitapi could not agree and tossed out the application.

He found that there had been no refusal by any of the listed respondents to build the school.

In his judgment, Justice Chitapi noted that the issue before the court concerned disagreements between the Harare Residents Trust and the respondents over the availability of land in the area preferred by the residents’ body against that offered by the council.

“Where the respondents are committed to and have undertaken to build the school, but there is grumbling and disagreement over the site, this is a matter which can be resolved,” he said.

“It cannot be said that there has been a violation of the constitution where the issue is being tackled.”

Tynwald South residents presently send their children to Kuwadzana, crossing the busy Bulawayo Road.

Other children go to schools in Dzivaresekwa, Budiriro and other suburbs.

Most new suburbs in Harare have no public primary and secondary schools, forcing parents to send their children to neighbouring suburbs or even across the city centre to attend school.

The children also face transport challenges because public schools do not provide transport for their pupils they enrol using a zoning system that assumes all children in the school live near the school.

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