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Rights groups fret over wat-er privatisation


HUMAN rights activists have condemned installation of prepaid water meter systems in urban areas by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), describing the move as privatisation and commodification of the natural resource.

Zinwa is currently rolling out prepaid water meters in various towns and cities in the country as part of measures to enforce accountability on water usage. But rights activists attending a four-day workshop organised by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) in Bulawayo this week described the move as a gross violation of human rights.

In a statement, MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said his organisation had partnered others to fight for water justice for all citizens across Africa.

 “We recognise prepaid water meters as a disguised water commodification and water privatisation scheme which is good for water revenue collection, but catastrophic for human rights and which is being promoted by governments and multilateral institutions to further marginalise and discriminate against the poor and vulnerable from enjoying water rights,” he said.

Maphosa added: “MIHR joins the progressive African community inclusive of civil society organisations, labour and individual activists working towards water justice across the African continent, in standing opposed to the privatization of water in Africa under every guise.

“As declared by the (UN Committee on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights ‘’the right to water clearly falls within the category of guarantees essential for securing an adequate standard of living, particularly since it is one of the most fundamental conditions for survival.”

He implored the State to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to ensure citizens enjoyed their right to water.

 “We urge the government of Zimbabwe, and the ZINWA to abide by Section 77 read together with Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and halt the prepaid water metering scheme as it discriminates and marginalises the poor and vulnerable from enjoying water rights,” Maphosa said, urging the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission(ZGC) to jointhe campaign against privatisation of water.

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