Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association vs City of Harare 2779/2020
Zimbabwe Environmental law Association filed a court application against City of Harare for a structural interdict. This case was filed pursuant to the discharge of raw (untreated effluent) by City of Harare into the water bodies thereby causing water pollution.For varying periods beginning from 2013,City of Harare has been responsible for discharging of raw effluent into water bodies including Lake Chivero which provides drinking water for Harare residents. The City of Harare over the years has been fined and brought before the administrative bodies to rectify the problem but to no avail.
In this case ZELA seeks the following relief or remedy
(a) City of Harare be interdicted from discharging or releasing untreated sewer into water bodies, water courses and streams, tributaries or any part of the environment.
(b) The City of Harare be ordered to repair or upgrade its water treatment plants and sewer systems to ensure proper treatment of effluent before discharge into the environment within three months of the order
(c) The Environmental Management Agency to conduct inspections to assess compliance with the Environmental Management Act and to submit reports of such inspections to the Registrar of the High court within three months of the order.
This case comes at a time when there are acute water shortages and lack of access to clean water in Harare and other major cities. ZELA`s intervention is therefore hinged on the need to protect the right to a clean and safe environment that is provided for in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe under section 73. This case also seeks to vindicate section 77 of the Constitution which is the right to safe,clean and potable water.
City of Harare through its lawyers opposed this matter and is arguing that ZELA has not exhausted the local remedies despite the fact that over the years Environmental Management Agency has tried everything within its powers by engaging the municipality to rectify the issue.
Further, it is the City of Harare`s case that due to economic hardships they lack resources to carry out their statutory and constitutional mandate. This case is critical for environmental and water rights as enshrined in the Constitution. Its determination will put to rest the systematic water challenges that the City of Harare has been having over the years. It is important to note that this case will set a good precedence for all other municipalities in Zimbabwe.
ZELA is being represented by its Legal Officer,Mr Richard Ncube