Zanu PF activists have reportedly invaded and taken over an apartment building in Bulawayo amid threats to wrest idle structures in the city centre mostly owned by the white and Indian communities.
The group on Thursday blocked the owner Khalil Gaibie from evicting tenants from Elons Court along 3rd Avenue and Main Street.
Acting Zanu PF secretary for security Joseph Tshuma, who reportedly led the takeover on Monday, denied taking over the property, but admitted blocking the owner from evicting tenants.
Tshuma also confirmed the party had given property owners with buildings lying idle seven days within which to operate or risk losing the properties to Zanu PF which would then hand them over to the public for use.
“As a party we do not interfere with other people’s investments whether black or white. What worries us is for someone to block people from working in that building. Where do they want those people to work from?” said Tshuma.
“If the tenants are making an effort in paying rates then we as a party do not see any reason for them to be chucked out of the building. We have some buildings in the city that have been closed for more than 10 years on the pretext by owners that they are being renovated.
“We are giving those people seven days to reopen those buildings or we are going to take over their running. The process will be done lawfully without any violence or rushing.
“We are going to pursue legal channels to repossess the buildings. If the owners are failing to find money, then they should put people inside so that they raise money to fund the renovations. We stand guided by the Indigenisation Act.”
Tshuma said Zanu PF was being accused of leading the country towards an economic meltdown yet owners of business premises chose to shut down strategic buildings.
“Bulawayo used to be the hub of industry in the country, but now many buildings are closed. Zanu PF is thus saying those buildings must be opened and serve the public and Bulawayo has to return to its glory days,” he said.
“In the event that we take over the building, we will make sure that it is properly maintained. We will provide water and electricity if the services are not there.
“The occupants of the building will be responsible for the repairs of anything that will be damaged.
“In allocating the buildings, we will not discriminate them on the grounds of political affiliation or religious belief but everyone stands to benefit.”
Tshuma said even disadvantaged members of the white community stood to benefit from the takeovers.