The Combined Harare Residents Association joins the nation and the world at large in commemorating and celebrating the World Women’s Day running under the theme “An equal world in an enabled world.” The day comes at a time when women in Harare have become victims of violence and abuse due to poor service delivery, shrinking civic space, poor economic performance and lack of women representation.

Physical and sexual violence against women have been reported in high density areas as women battle to find water for domestic purposes at boreholes and shallow wells dotted around the City due to the spiralling water shortages in Harare. The UNFPA reports that “about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15”.

The constitutional right to water in Harare remains a dream since water has become a scarce resource in the City. CHRA condemn the blame game between the local authority and central government on the failure to supply citizens with clean potable water.

CHRA reiterates that in the absence of water, women have been playing the role of supplying citizens with water, taking care of the sick when the hospitals have been closed and supplying energy when electricity have not been available.

The national duty of giving birth during the current health crisis is a threat to women’s lives and maternity hospitals have become death traps for pregnant women. To this end CHRA calls on the government of Zimbabwe to be sincere and serious in addressing the impasse that have collapsed the health delivery system.

The current shrinking civic space in Zimbabwe is not healthy for women as it have implications on women participation and voice in local governance processes.

Women’s suffering in Zimbabwe has been compounded by the current poor economic performance that have seen piecemeal arrangements such as setting up Garrison Shops for military personnel for subsidised “groceries”, while the poor will be exposed to the current hyper inflationary environment.

Failure by the City of Harare and Government of Zimbabwe to support the informal sector which is the main employer of women and promote safe spaces for women traders is worrying. CHRA calls on the immediate stop of high levels of abuse and harassment of women vendors by militant municipal officers.

As an Association we implore to our Local Authority to:

  • Promote gender responsive service delivery by putting in place a gender committee that will provide oversight on gender responsive service delivery issues.
  • Immediate STOP of harassing of women vendors and come up measures to promote safe spaces for women to conduct their business and come up with constitutional laws and policies that govern the informal sector.
  • Provide long term water solution by preservation of wetlands to end the water crisis in Harare.
  • Review water policies and by-laws, in particular the 1913 Water By-Laws that promotes arbitrary water disconnection

We further implore the Government of Zimbabwe to:

  • Expedite the full implementation of Devolution as in chapter 14 of the constitution to ensure that local authorities have the enough decision making power and resources to improve social service delivery.
  • Build more water sources and align water laws with the constitution
  • Government of Zimbabwe must follow the constitution and open up space for civic participation
  • Come up with a solution to the incapacitation of doctors and nurses in government hospitals

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)