Mutoti expressed sympathy for residents whose illegal houses were earmarked for demolition and said he would suggest to the minister of local government, public works and national housing, Ignatius Chombo, that the 25,000 homes be spared and given legitimate status by the local authority.
Chombo told journalists last week that the illegal structures constructed in Chitungwiza and some parts of Seke rural faced demolition in the next fortnight.
Owners of targeted structures will be asked to pull them down. If they don’t, the local authorities will carry out the demolition.
Initially, 10,000 structures were set for destruction in Chitungwiza but, according to Mutoti, the number has since grown to more than 25,000. Mutoti told The Zimbabwean that he felt affected families deserved more mercy than punishment.
“I will suggest to Minister Chombo that maybe only structures built under power lines, wetlands and above sewer and water pipes could be demolished, while those in safe areas could be regularised,” said Mutoti.
He said that although he didn’t approve of illegal settlements, destroying people’s shelter in the middle of the rainy season was not proper.
He said any large-scale house demolitions would be another Operation Murambatsvina, which would impact negatively on the homeless poor. MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, said his party was totally opposed to the demolitions.
Mwonzora said MDC-T did not approve of demolitions without providing affected families with alternative shelter. He described the Chombo initiative to destroy the homes as sadistic, unfortunate and inhuman. He also dismissed the reasons given by Chombo for the demolitions as unacceptable.
“People should resist the Zanu (PF) second Operation Murambatsvina, as it is a retributive act against suspected MDC supporters,” said Mwonzora. He said government should meet its obligation of providing people with shelter and desist from inflicting pain on its poor citizens.
He said it was unfortunate that MDC-T mayors and councillors did not have the power to stop intervention by central government in this regard.
Most of the structures were constructed with the blessing of Zanu (PF) officials who wanted to boost their support base ahead of the July 31 elections. Zanu (PF) went on to win overwhelmingly in constituencies with illegal settlements. The programme of demolitions is also expected to affect other parts of the country.
Officials at Chombo’s office told The Zimbabwean that a taskforce, led by Chombo’s deputy, Joel Biggie Matiza, was investigating cases of unlawful parceling out of land by Manyame rural district council and Chitungwiza municipality.
Matiza is expected to meet with affected residents in Chitungwiza this week and advise them of his demolition plan. He would also address illegal settlers in Seke rural at Manyame rural district offices.
Chombo threatened to fire headmen, village heads and council officials involved in the illegal allocations.Post published in: News