Harare City Council has demolished a shop at Pomona Shopping Centre in Borrowdale on the grounds that it was an illegal structure.
It was not clear whether the campaign was being conducted on a wider scale or it was just a one-off exercise targeted at a specific outlet because council officials could not be reached for comment.
Town clerk Tendai Mahachi was said to be out of office. City spokesperson Leslie Gwindi was also not available.
The demolished shop housed the operations of a soap, detergent and chemical retailing company, Square Deal.
Its destruction was reminiscent of the infamous Operation Murambatsvina conducted in 2005 to rid the country of illegal structures and shacks in urban centres.
Lawyers representing Square Deal yesterday said they would take council to court because their actions were illegal.
“I have been instructed to sue the Harare Municipality for loss of business,” said Harare lawyer, Maxwell Mavhunga.
He said the council demolished the shop despite the fact that the case was pending in the High Court in Harare.
“For the past 10 years my client has been operating the outlet under a lease agreement with the owner Ithaca Properties. At one point during Operation Murambatsvina council issued a demolition notice which we challenged in court, but according to our knowledge, the case was never decided,” Mavhunga said.
“With the passage of time and changing of the economy I got convinced that such barbaric actions of wanton destruction of property had gone away.”
He said the company, Square Deal, has been paying council fees and was issued with a trading licence “ostensibly invalidating any argument that it is an illegal structure”.
Mavhunga said the council should not have demolished the structure because it was built on private land and plans were submitted to council for approval before it was built.
He said council never served them with any demolition order.
Mavhunga said when they demanded a copy of the court order empowering them to demolish the shop, municipal police officers referred them to the town clerk, Tendai Mahachi.
“We only got surprised to see a truckload of municipal police approaching, wielding bars and picks,” Mavhunga said.
“They did not give us the order but proceeded to demolish the building upon arrival.
“Whoever is behind the destruction is actually an immoral and retrogressive character who seeks cheap mileage and has no conscience for my client’s employees and their dependants who were trying to earn an honest living.”