Memorandum

There are number of legal frameworks that regulate water in Zimbabwe. Apart from the Constitution of Zimbabwe (No 20 of 2013), which entrenches the right to food and water under its Bill of Rights, subsidiary legislation exists which speaks to water management and governance. These include the Water Act (Chapter 20:24), the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27), the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Act (Chapter 20:25), the Water (Waste and Effluent Disposal) Regulations (S.I 274/2000), the Public Health Act (Chapter 15:09), Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 10:28) and the National Water Policy.

The current Water Act (Chapter 20:24) provides for the development and utilization of water resources of Zimbabwe, establishment, powers and procedures of Catchment Councils and Sub-Catchment Councils granting of permits for the use of water; control of use of water when in short supply; acquisition of servitudes in respect of water; protection of environment and prevention and control of water pollution.

As it appears, the Water Act has been widely criticised as archaic, not in sync with the provisions under the new Constitution and not embracing contemporary water resource management principles. Therefore, there is need to align the Water Act with the Constitution, particularly its objectives founding values and principles and other normative standards impacting on access, quality and quantity of water.

Moreover, water as a human right is not a self-standing human right under international law. The human right to water as a right is conferred by various international treaties and conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on Rights of Persons with disabilities and the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The legal frameworks regulating water in Zimbabwe need to complement each other and have similar objectives. These pieces of legislation must not contradict each other so that the realisation of the right to water becomes easier. Against this background, this Draft Water Bill aligns the Water Act with these various legal frameworks to properly give effect to emerging international principles.

The main amendments in the Draft Water Bill are directed at the following objectives:

  1. To give effect to the International Treaties and Conventions to which Zimbabwe is a signatory to and the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe
  2. To ensure consistency with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Read the full Draft Bill here (171KB Word document)

Source: Community Water Alliance