High Court upholds water disconnection rulings

Source: High Court upholds water disconnection rulings | The Herald May 23, 2017

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
The High Court has upheld previous rulings that it is illegal for Harare
City Council to disconnect water supplies to defaulting businesses and
residents without a court order. The city, however, says it is going to
appeal against the decision at the Supreme Court. Last year, the city got
a reprieve after a High Court judge gave it the green light to disconnect
water for defaulting residents without a court order provided it follows
provisions of the Harare (Water) By-laws S.164/1913, which require that
council gives 24 hours’ notice to affected parties before disconnections.

The High Court, however, said where the bill was genuinely disputed, there
should be recourse at the courts before council disconnected the water
supply to the consumer.

The court made the ruling in a case in which Harare lawyer Mr Tinofara
Hove took Harare City Council to the High Court seeking to stop the city
from disconnecting his water supplies without a court order after accruing
an $18 600 water bill.

Acting chamber secretary Mr Charles Kandemiri briefed council on the
latest judgment barring council from disconnecting water without a court

“Acting chamber secretary (Mr Kandemiri) reported that Bothwell Property
Company was a registered company in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe and
water supply to the company was disconnected. The applicant had then filed
an urgent chamber application in the High Court citing that they had been
diligently paying its monthly water bills yet its account had a debit
balance,” read the minutes of the Finance and Development Committee.

“In his report, the acting chamber secretary had detailed events that had
transpired on the matter. He also reported that the applicant had
approached the court on an urgent basis seeking restoration of water
supply to its premises and an interdict to bar further disconnections
pending finalisation of the matter by the courts.”

Mr Kandemiri told council that the High Court had granted interim relief
sought by Bothwell Property on an urgent basis and also granted the final

He said the court held that the disconnection of the company’s water
supply was ultra vires the Constitution and accordingly barred Harare from
disconnecting Bothwell Property’s water without a court order.

Mr Kandemiri told councillors that the city would appeal at the Supreme
Court and during discussion the committee underscored the need for council
to pursue the matter in its best interest.

In 2014, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu made a similar ruling saying Section 8
of the Water By-Law, which empowers local authorities to cut water
supplies without a court order, was in breach of Sections 77 and 44 of the

The two sections guarantee the right to safe and clean water and compel
Government to respect fundamental human rights.