THE Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust (Chitrest) yesterday blasted Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister Ignatius Chombo and his deputy Joel Biggie Matiza, accusing them of concentrating on demolition of houses instead of dealing with service delivery in the town.
Chitrest director Marvellous Khumalo told a joint Press conference with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) that Chombo, Matiza and Chitungwiza Town Council did not consult residents when they undertook an audit on illegal structures.
Khumalo also questioned the sincerity of the audit saying action was only taken by demolishing houses of people who were swindled by land barons, yet the implicated land barons were still at large without action taken on them.
The report on the Chitungwiza housing scam which was done soon after elections by a 23-member team revealed that 8 260 houses were earmarked for demotion in Chitungwiza Urban, 6 200 in Seke Rural, bringing the total for both Chitungwiza and Seke Rural to 14 460 houses to be demolished.
Chitrest and ZLHR said government and local authorities should respect the recent court ruling where a Chitungwiza resident Mavis Marange and three others had taken the local authority and Glory to Glory Housing Co-operative to the magistrates’ court seeking to interdict the first and second respondents from demolishing their houses.
The court presided over by Chitungwiza provincial magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa ruled in favour of Marange and three others adding: “It is clear that the applicants have clear right over their houses and have no alternative shelter or accommodation. Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly states that, “No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished without an order of court made after considering all relevant circumstances. The law is very clear and should be followed.”
However, ZLHR and Chitrest said despite the ruling by the court, they remained concerned that Chombo, Matiza and the Chitungwiza local authority continued to threaten to evict people and demolish their houses.
“We have realised government is still determined to make sure they demolish houses and Chombo and Matiza have invested a lot of money and energy in this exercise instead of spending money on service delivery,” said Khumalo.
ZLHR projects officer Dzimbabwe Chimbga said: “A ruling was made that state agents cannot act against the constitution, but a lot of people find themselves failing to enjoy their rights. A lot have no roofs and access to water as sewage is being driven to water sources.”
Khumalo said arrests of the implicated land barons were not carried our, Chitrest would force the government and Chitungwiza council to take action.
He also called for the reinstatement of some Chitungwiza Local Authority Workers’ Union members who were fired for appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and revealed to the committee that management at the local authority paid hefty salaries to themselves using secret bank accounts.
“Parliament is supposed to issue a certificate of privileges to these fired workers and Chitrest will follow up on the matter to ensure the fired workers are protected,” Khumalo said.