HUNDREDS of illegal shacks were razed down in Epworth yesterday, leaving at least 300 households homeless.
Report by Veneranda Langa, Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Most of them were reportedly Zanu PF members who had been illegally allocated stands in an area owned by a Harare company, Sunway City Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe Limited (IDCZ).
The shacks, located in the Overspill area, were brought down yesterday morning in scenes reminiscent of government’s 2005 Operation Murambatsvina that left thousands of people homeless countrywide.
The Zanu PF supporters were reportedly allocated the stands by local party leaders only identified as Kembo and Chisango, apparently without authority to do so from the owners of the land.
Asked if Zanu PF was responsible for issuing out the illegal stands, Zanu PF Harare Province chairman Amos Midzi disowned the action by the alleged Zanu PF leaders in Epworth, saying the party did not have a policy to illegally seize land.
“We have no policy whatsoever to take over private property anywhere in Harare,” Midzi said.
When NewsDay visited the scene of the demolitions, the area resembled a war zone where hundreds of the affected people stood by their household property in the midst of brick and mortar rubble — remains of what used to be their “houses”.
Household items such as sofas, beds, and kitchenware were strewn everywhere. Some of the people that became destitute overnight said in interviews that they were particularly worried as the onset of the rainy season meant they were likely to lose their property.
Among the displaced were pregnant women, school-going children and babies.
The hapless victims of the mass destructions blamed Zanu PF for allocating them stands illegally and lying to them that they would never be removed.
“Zanu PF told us to come and occupy this area last year and we were told we were not going to be affected by any demolitions or evictions because land belonged to the people,” said Washington Mutsago, one of the affected people.
“Zanu PF leaders, one known as Kembo and another known as Chisango, collected money from each family as assurance that we would never be evicted, and at one time we paid $50 each. Only last week we were made to pay another $5 per family as contribution towards legal fees so that we would not be evicted,” chipped in Rumbidzai Nyamuta, one of those left homeless.
Although the stands were said to have been allocated to the families for free, those affected disclosed to NewsDay there were some people who then sub-divided and sold part of the land to home seekers for amounts ranging from $300 to $800.
“We have stayed here for a year now and we have been paying money to Zanu PF. What astounds us is that whenever they were collecting money, they were visible, but now our houses are being demolished and they are nowhere to be seen. They should not be surprised if they lose our votes,” said Freddie Muzori.
What made their situation worse, the residents said, was that they were not given notice to find alternative accommodation before the demolitions.
Sunway City general manager Kwaku Dzukamanja said: “The land in question is owned under free road title by Sunway City and is zoned for light industrial use. The first wave of settlers moved on to the land in question in September 2011.
The settlers have been made aware of the fact that they are constructing unlawful structures on Sunway City land. Sunway repeatedly requested them to voluntarily vacate the place without success.
“As a result, a court order was obtained giving Sunway City clearance to proceed with the eviction and demolition of all unlawful structures. The settlers were given a grace period in which to comply with the court order and remove their valuables before the process of demolition of structures took effect.”