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Storm over public toilets commercialisation

by Staff reporter
20 Mar 2024 at 06:32hrs | Views
HUMAN rights watchdog, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), has criticised government's plans to commercialise public toilets as a measure to promote sanitisation and hygiene.

The Local Government and Public Works minister Winston Chitando announced the plan in Parliament on March 13.

In a statement, MIHR director Khumbulani Maphosa described the move as a gross human rights violation, unjust and unfair.

"We call on the Zimbabwean public to reject this government decision and on the government of Zimbabwe to refrain from adopting neoliberal, elitist and colonial policy choices that violate the rights of the poor such as denying people the right to use a toilet freely," said Maphosa.

 "MIHR notes with grave concern the unfair policy direction that the Government of Zimbabwe is taking towards privatisation and commercialisation of toilets in public places of the country."

Maphosa stressed that the development would disadvantage vulnerable members of society.

"Contrary to the minister's assertion, this will be a great inconvenience to the public, especially the vendors and the commuting public, especially women, children and the elderly. We resonate with the 2019 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation which was entitled "Human rights to water and sanitation in spheres of life beyond the household with an emphasis on public spaces.

"Public spaces such as markets and bus terminus have vendors who work there and currently they are paying annual and monthly licence fees to the local authorities to enable them to operate there. The vehicles that ply routes using those places also pay to the local authorities. It is this money that should be used to manage, maintain and service public toilets," he said.

Maphosa added that government should exorcise its obsession to tax the poor and should instead use the funds it pampers government and public officials with expensive vehicles and expensive trips to fund public services such as free toilets in public spaces.

Source - southern eye
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