Civil Society Health Emergency Response Coordinating Committee met in the capital to give views over the cholera outbreak in the country.

These CSOs included representatives of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Community Water Alliance, Harare Residents Trust, Manyame Rural Residents and Community Working Group on Health. In a press briefing held this morning, the CSOs highlighted that they are greatly saddened by the 25 deaths. They added that they hold the government and ZINWA accountable for the deaths that were avoidable.

Government breaking constitutional provisions

They also alluded that people have been hospitalized since 6 September when the wave hit Harare. They blame these outbreaks on official and criminal negligence which has affected bereaved families and the country at large. CSOs also alluded that the constitution of Zimbabwe facilitates the right to clean environments but the government and councils have failed to grant this right for a long time. The government has also been attacked for abuse of state funds when they continuously fail to provide basic services to the taxpayer.

Why pay for services which is never delivered?

CSOs pointed out that the cause of the outbreak of waterborne diseases is lack of portable clean water and sewer reticulation. They added that residents continuously pay rates for basic services that are never offered. The committee went on to recommend an immediate response to the outbreaks. They also stated that the failure to provide services by the government signify the failure of leadership. The committee also calls relevant ministries to come together in the fight against water-borne diseases. The government has also been challenged to come up with an inclusive team that will investigate the recurrence of these outbreaks.

What happened to the African Charter you willingly accepted?

They added that the Zimbabwean government is under the African Charter of Human Rights and the Abuja declarations which address the right to clean water. The government has been challenged to abide by the requirements that they willingly accepted years back. A representative for Zimbabwe Lawyer’s for Human Rights strongly defended the vendors who are blamed for worsening the situation. They added that they are just trying to earn a living as the government has failed to provide employment. All government officials have been urged to work for Zimbabwe and not their parties as it might slow down levels of progress. CSOs have made it clear that they have eyes on ED  on the way he is conducting his work on everyone around him.

CSOs urged ED to punish everyone who has committed crimes in the past without selective application of the law. Media has also been urged to pay more attention to service delivery issues.

Questions

You have accused the government of breaking constitutional provisions, is the constitutional court not the right place to lodge your complaint?

The committee alluded that the legal route takes time when the outbreak is an issue that has to be addressed as soon as possible.

What has the civil society done to help with the situation?

The civil society organizations have tried to engage the local authorities and the government because they have paid their rates and they expect delivery of services.