Statement On The City Of Harare Court Challenge

The Combined Harare Residents Association is shocked by the City of Harare’s challenge of the High Court Order, which was meant to compel the local authority to open Council clinics and honor its constitutional mandate to provide health services to residents. The Appeal by the Harare City Council to challenge the Order clearly shows that Council is not willing to re-open the clinics and improve health service delivery in the City. The City has been captured by self-serving individuals masquerading as public officials both elected and non-elected.

We reiterate that the right to health enshrined on Section 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is inseparably connected to the right to life within the constitution and other international legal instruments.

We are aware of the machinations behind the Court challenge which are meant to water down the High Court Order as well as buy time in complying with the Order, which was granted in favour of residents. CHRA is also concerned and disappointed with the silence of the central government in particular the Ministry of Health over the closure of the clinics when it has an oversight role over the Council Health Department. The attainment of “equitable coverage and enhanced quality of health delivery” as provided for in the Transitional Stabilization Plan will not be achieved when we have a local authority that unilaterally closes clinics for unjustified reasons.

The burden of the closure of clinics is unbearable towards pregnant women who have a role in giving life and taking care of the sick in the homes. We have lost lives of women and children due to the paralysis within the City of Harare health delivery system. Section 76 (3) is very clear “No person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health care institution”, yet yesterday a pregnant woman had a miscarriage at Highfields Poly Clinic after being turned away by one of the nurses who is alleged to have said that her salary was not sufficient to attend to the woman.

We would like to remind the City of Harare that it is a public institution established through Section 274 and 276 of the Constitution.

We therefore recommend the following:

·       The Harare City Councilors must consider  withdrawal of  its Court challenge on the High Court Order to re-open clinics

·       The Harare City Council must find progressive ways of resolving labor disputes within its health personnel so that these disputes do not spill over to impact negatively on health delivery services.

·       The Ministry of Health must intervene urgently and provide funding for the City of Harare Health Department and strengthen its capacity to deliver on its mandate

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association