Thirsting for justice – Zimbabwe's High Court runs out of water

Harare – Hearings at the High Court in Zimbabwe's capital Harare have been brought to a halt as the building falls victim to the breakdown in water supplies affecting much of the country, a court official said Wednesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity a junior official told our reporter: "On Tuesday mid-morning, we were asked to close shop as there was no water. Today (Wednesday) it is the same story. There is no water."

A visit to the court Wednesday confirmed there was little activity at the court, where many courtrooms were were closed.

Harare has not had adequate supplies of clean water for months, forcing people to seek out shallow wells and rivers for water to drink, wash and cook.

The situation has prompted an outbreak of cholera that has claimed over 100 lives since September, according to a doctors’ group.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) non-governmental organization condemned the de facto closure of the High Court.

"That such a court as a vehicle for protecting human rights should be closed due to lack of water is a serious undermining of equal protection of the law to litigants, detainees, and even convicted prisoners whose matters are on appeal from lower courts," the organization said.

Zimbabwe’s once robust economy is racing towards collapse. Inflation is officially put at 231 million per cent (but estimated at several times that) and close to 4 million people require food aid.

The collapse is widely blamed on the populist policies of 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has used state force to remain in power this year, despite two election setbacks.