Chitungwiza council is mooting demolishing all illegal structures mushrooming in and around the town four years after the controversial clean-up pilot project code-named Operation Murambatsvina displaced thousands of urbanites and razed dwellings countrywide.
The move comes hard on the heels of similar manouvres by Harare City Council which says residents should abide by the local authority’s bylaws.
Chitungwiza Mayor Philemon Chipiyo told NewsDay that all illegal structures will be demolished and gave the culprits up to seven days to remove their structures.
He said letters had already been dispatched to offenders.
One of the letters seen by this newspaper reads in part: “It is noted you have constructed an illegal dwelling structure at your premises in violation of the conditions of your lease or certificate of your tenancy.
“Accordingly, you are hereby given seven days to demolish the structure. Failure to comply with the above order council will demolish the structure and charge you with the cost of demolition.”
Chipiyo said residents should simply comply with the order or face the consequences.
“Yes, it was discussed that people should demolish all structures which were built without the council’s consent. Government said people should remove those structures.
“Who told them to build again? So if government said there should be no illegal structures then that is it.
“We are simply complying with the government’s directive,” Chipiyo said.
Observers have since warned that councils mulling such action must be sensitive to the plight of residents especially those living in power-keg areas.
In 2005, the government under President Robert Mugabe’s previous administration embarked on a massive clean-up exercise which according to the United Nation’s envoy on Human Habitat Anna Tibaijuka, displaced over 700 000 people.
The exercise was carried out immediately after the announcement of that year’s parliamentary results where Zanu PF lost significant ground to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
The timing of the clean-up set tounges wagging.
The MDC and the international community were convinced that it was not a decongesting exercise but rather, retribution against urbanites who overwhelmingly voted for the then opposition.
Tibaijuka courted the ire of Mugabe after she produced a damning report which said Operation Murambatsvina was inhuman