City of Harare succumbs to pressure on forced evictions

harare_city_councilThe City of Harare has succumbed to the pressure that residents and other stakeholders put on them in protest against the forced evictions that were earmarked for Gunhill Squatter Camp and Newlands Arts and Crafts Centre.

The Coalition of stakeholders namely Amnesty International Zimbabwe Chapter (AIZ), Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), representatives from the Gunhill informal settlements and Newlands Arts and Crafts conducted a meeting with the Harare Mayor and His Deputy on the 5th of August 2009 at Town House to discuss the issue of forced evictions. The meeting came after members of the Coalition had already alerted other partners and stakeholders in and outside Zimbabwe appealing for their solidarity in the quest to convince the City of Harare to come up with a proper resettlement plan first before they could evict people. The AIZ circulated the information to other Amnesty International Chapters around the world and also appealed to Harares twin cities like Munich and Nottingham. CHRA embarked on a massive media campaign to mobilize residents lodge their objections to this move. The Mayor and his deputy admitted that they had received numerous emails and phone calls from various stakeholders in and outside Zimbabwe who voiced their concern over reports of pending forced evictions. The two city fathers said that the Council had no intention whatsoever of evicting people but that they were in the process of finding out the needs of the people without shelter so that a proper resettlement plan can be developed. The following resolutions were made at the meeting;
CHRA and AIZ were tasked to work with Council to look into the needs of the informal settlers in terms of how they came to be where they are, whether they are employed or not and exact statistics of the number of people in informal settlements in Harare.
The Council will then use that information to find alternative places for these people to be resettled where there will be proper sanitary facilities and public enmities.
Council promised that they will consult with the Newlands Artists to find out where their market stall can be relocated. The Mayor told representatives from the Arts and Crafts Centre that they should be free to make suggestions on an alternative place that would want to relocate to and then Council will make the necessary arrangements for relocation.
The Council will make efforts to source resources for the construction of houses for people who do not have formal shelter in Harare. So far, funds are being mobilized through the Bill Melinda Gates Trust to help people without shelter in Harare.
The Mayor confirmed to the Stakeholder Coalition that there is not going to be a second Operation Murambatsvina and that Council will not evict people before alternative places for resettlement are made available.
The Mayor of Harare, who is also a partner to the UN Habitat Organ, said that the City of Harare is actually taking into consideration the recommendations that are in the report produced by Anna Tibaijuka during the Operation Murambatsvina aftermath. The recommendations in the report will be used as reference points on resettling the affected people.
CHRA remains committed to advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality and affordable municipal (and other) services on a non-partisan basis.

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