Residents hail court ruling

Chitungwiza residents hailed last week’s court ruling barring their local authority from demolishing houses built on ‘undesignated’ sites. They urged transparency and accountability in the allocation of residential stands.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo

They said they were relieved that their properties were not going to be demolished as had been ordered by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.

According to Chombo’s recent directive, residents were supposed to destroy their houses to secure a demolition certificate, after which they would apply for another residential stand.

The courts ruled in favour of an application made by the Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust (Chitrest) through their lawyer Marufu Mandevere from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

“We are happy with the court ruling and we hope that the it will be upheld by the municipality,” said Rufaro Marange from Pagomba in Zengeza 4. She appealed for the rule of law in the country and said it was a step in the right direction that the courts had protected and championed the rights of citizens.

Gift Mharapara said “Instead of seeking to demolish people’s houses, council should be finding avenues of dealing with the land barons.”

Other residents emphasised the importance of transparency on how council conducted its operations in order to prevent similar cases.

“Council should be fighting ex- councillor Frederick Mabamba who fraudulently sold the stand – not the residents. By not pursuing the matter, this gives wrong picture about justice in Zimbabwe,” said Mharapara

Grace Makson, 53, whose house was set for demolition called for transparency and accountability from the city fathers. “The allocation of residential stands should be transparent and council should resume the allocation of stands using the housing waiting list.”

She said if people were allocated houses in a transparent manner, this would prevent the allocation of stands at undesignated areas. But others said the court order would encourage more illegal settlements.

“The court ruling is welcome but those people who have built their properties on power lines should never find comfort in the court reprieve. Their safety is not guaranteed and they should never blame anyone in the event of accidents,” said Makson.

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