MIHR condemns Govt’s call to privatise public toilets

The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has condemned the government for proposing to privatise and commercialise public toilets, citing this as a violation of human rights as enshrined in Zimbabwe’s Constitution. 

The call to porivatise toilets was made by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Winston Chitando, who was responding to Parliamentarians on the measures being taken by the government to strengthen access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in public spaces. 

MIHR Coordinator, Khumbulani Maphosa, said the need for the use of a toilet (whether for urination or faecal excretion) is an involuntary natural and biological process which a human being has no direct control over and commercialising public toilets violates such. 

“In the interest of promoting and protecting human rights, human dignity and the promotion of public health – we call on the Zimbabwean public, who are users of toilets in public places, to reject this government policy direction. The public should also reject this direction because it blatantly violates the principles of devolution of power as espoused in Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Maphosa said. 

“We also call on those working in these public spaces such as vendors and bus operators to reject this government direction and instead call for accountability from local authorities on how they are utilising the funds paid annually as licence fees and monthly rentals.” 

Maphosa said the government must channel the funds it is using to buy ministerial cars towards enhancing WASH facilities. 

“The government’s rationale for wanting to privatise and commercialise toilets in public spaces is ultra-vice the objectives of increasing convenience to the public and it will work towards flaming the spread of cholera as people resort to open defecation and the use of alleys. On the 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,” he said. 

“The government should utilise the same coffers it is using to pamper public officials with luxury vehicles, such as the money used to buy chiefs 100 Isuzu twin cabs each valued above US$30 000, to give to local authorities in order to service and maintain public toilets for free.” 

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