Illegal structures must go: Mayor

The Harare City Council will soon conduct an audit of illegal structures built on un-serviced land without permission – and massive demolitions could follow - says Deputy Mayor Thomas Muzuwa.

Government demolitions in 2005 left 700,000 destitute.
Government demolitions in 2005 left 700,000 destitute.

Several cooperatives named after Liberation War heroes allocated stands to desperate home seekers in order to build political power bases in the run-up to the July 31 election.

“Demolitions are the way forward since some individuals and housing cooperatives had allocated themselves residential stands without council approval,” Muzuwa told The Zimbabwean .

Muzuwa said properties facing demolitions would include those built in areas not suitable for human settlements and others mushrooming in contravention of council plans. Thousands of families affiliated to coops such as the Joshua Nkomo Housing cooperative would be affected.

“We cannot allow squatters to deface the beauty of Harare, which is the administrative hub of the country. Harare is not a rural set up where one could afford building a house without council approval,” Muzuwa said.

Asked whether the demolitions would not be another Operation Murambatsvina, Muzuwa said dirty was dirty and had to be treated as such.

Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said his council was in the process of restoring the capital city’s sunshine status and would not accept unplanned structures.

“All properties around Harare should be according to the town planning. Anything outside that should go,” said the mayor.

One of the targeted victims, retired teacher Monica Samuriwo who joined a Housing Cooperative with properties between Marimba Park and Kambuzuma, said the government should responsibly respond to demands for shelter by the homeless.

“We are hopelessly awaiting D-day as we have no alternative shelter,” she said, holding back tears.

Though no official figure of properties facing demolition was given, sources at town house said it would not be anything less than 60,000 units. Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson, Simbarashe Moyo, said as much as the illegal settlers were at fault, council had an obligation to provide shelter for residents.

He said pulling down the structures without providing alternative land would be against both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Constitution.

In 2005, the Zanu (PF) government destroyed thousands of ‘illegal’ houses in urban centres in its infamous Operation Murambatsvina, which left some 700,000 destitute and without alternative shelter.

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