Chitungwiza demolitions: bruising battle looms

Lawyers for Human Rights have warned government of a protracted and bruising legal battle if it continues with plans to demolish ‘illegal’ houses in Chitungwiza and Seke.

Prominent human rights lawyer, Jeremiah Bhamu told some 500 anxious residents at Chitungwiza Unit O last week that the Constitution did not permit retrogressive house demolitions.

“Shelter is a fundamental human right and government would have to approach the courts for approval before pulling down the structures. If granted permission to do so, affected families would have the right to appeal against the demolition orders,” he said.

If their shelter was razed, the occupants had a right to compensation by government and would only move out of the condemned place if alternative accommodation was offered.

After learning about the legal aspects of the demolitions, residents called on Chitungwiza Residents Trust to consider public litigation and cement its marriage to ZLHR to fight for their rights.

CHITREST treasurer, Brighton Mazhindu, warned government against continuing with the demolitions as the investigating team assigned by the Ministry of Local Government had not fully consulted with concerned residents as required by the dictates of participatory democracy.

“The planned demolitions are illegal, barbaric and inhuman. The exercise must be resisted and targeted houses should be regularised by the responsible authorities since they were put up in full view of both Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Council,” Mazhindu said.

Over 25,000 houses face demolition as they were reportedly built without approval of the local authorities. A report released by the investigating team last Wednesday recommended that the structures be demolished and said the land barons responsible for parcelling out the land must be brought to justice.

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