THE demolition of residential properties by Zanu PF is inhuman and callous, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said.
Tsvangirai, who toured Ruwa where over 200 illegal tuckshops and houses were destroyed in Runyararo, Zimre and Damofalls, also described the demolitions as a violation of the country’s Constitution.
“It was callous. A lot of people are dependent on these shops not only for service, but for income and it was very inhuman for Zanu PF to destroy the shops,” Tsvangirai said after the tour.
He said government should compensate for the tuckshops and houses that were demolished in Ruwa two weeks ago under a clean-up campaign.
“People have a right to a structure,” Tsvangirai said. “You cannot demolish unless you have an alternative. The economy has been informalised . . . and I think what happened was just an act of overzealousness.”
He said in some cases in Chitungwiza people had built illegal houses under schemes supported by Zanu PF politicians, but still their houses should not be destroyed before alternative accommodation has been found.
“It is vindictive and there is no rationale for Zanu PF to demolish the people’s properties and worse it brought back the realities of 2005 Murambatsvina,” he said, adding that the Zanu PF government must immediately stop the demolitions.
“It should be sensitive and must have a conscience in view of the suffering that the people are facing.”
The MDC-T leader — who was accompanied by Ruwa Town Board chairperson Phineas Mushayavanhu — said the local authority should engage the affected residents and discuss ways of compensating them.
“People invested so much especially in building the houses and you cannot come and destroy without some form of compensation,” Tsvangirai said.
Mushayavanhu said the decision to demolish the properties was the brainchild of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo who ordered his ministry and the Epworth/Ruwa Board officials to demolish the properties, a move which affected the lives of hundreds of families in the town.
“The decision was made during the time when the council was run by a government-appointed commission before our council came into being after the elections,” he said. “We have not even seen the minutes of the meeting where the commission made the decision. It was reached on the strength of ministerial statements on the illegal structures. We were not part of the decision. The demolitions were done with ruthless efficiency. The formal sector has co-existed with the informal sector here and as a council we actually had plans to build corner shops in every ward.”
He said the local authority had so far built four corner shops with a capacity to accommodate up to six traders each.
Early this month, government set up a committee led by Local Government deputy minister Joel Biggie Matiza which is supposed to investigate the mushrooming of illegal settlements in urban areas and make recommendations on how to deal with the problem.
Initially, the government had threatened to demolish illegal structures in urban areas throughout the country in what would have been a repeat of Operation Murambatsvina carried out in 2005 which left more than 700 000 people homeless.