Bulawayo residents have reacted angrily to a Supreme Court ruling that gives local authorities the authority to disconnect water supplies to defaulting consumers.
The court ruled that local authorities can disconnect water supplies to defaulting consumers in order to safeguard the rights of paying consumers.
Justice Bharat Patel made the ruling in a case in which the Harare City Council was appealing a High Court order which granted a city lawyer Farai Mushoriwa reprieve from having water supplies at his home disconnected.
In an interview with CITE, the Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA) chairperson, Winos Dube, described the court’s decision as ruthless.
“ It’s like adding a salt into a bleeding wound,” he said
“ As an association we are shocked by the court’s decision which will mostly affect ordinary citizens who are struggling to cope with life as the country’s economy is showing no signs of improvement”.
“Water is life and is a constitutionally given right and yet the Court is willing to deprive us of that right.”
In his ruling Justice Patel noted that water disconnections by local authorities did not infringe on the right to Constitution which guarantees the right to safe, clean and potable water, as enshrined in Section 77 of the country’s Constitution.
Bulawayo Residents Association (BUPRA), spokesperson Emmanuel Ndlovu, said the decision was shocking.
“It is shocking that the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the councils to disconnect water supplies at this desperate time,” said Ndlovu.
“Their timing is defective as it is being introduced at a time the country is fighting against cholera.”
Speaking to CITE Ndlovu said the local authority has a debt recovery policy, which does not include disconnection of water supply.
“However, I would like to implore residents to engage the city council and us as an association to help them to access payment plans.”