HUNDREDS of Zanu PF supporters clad in party regalia and other Chitungwiza residents yesterday besieged the town council headquarters demonstrating against Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo over his failure to address them.
PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI SENIOR REPORTER
The residents alleged that Chombo had earlier promised to address them over the issue of residential stands parcelled out illegally.
They sang and danced under the watchful eye of the riot police squad while baying for Chombo’s blood. Chombo, who could not be reached for comment, was believed to be attending an emergency Zanu PF politburo meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare.
But residents, who spoke to NewsDay on the condition of anonymity after they were warned by the party’s youth leaders not to speak to the Press, said they wanted assurance from Chombo after the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Court ruled that it was illegal to demolish their houses.
Local Government deputy minister Joel Biggie Matiza, however, later met the Zanu PF youth leaders and the town’s management at his offices in Harare.
“We know that the court has ruled that our houses should not be demolished because that is a violation of the Constitution. But what we want is the minister to give us assurance that he will abide by that ruling,” one of the residents said.
Chitungwiza Civil Court magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa in April granted the residents — represented by the Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust — relief after dismissing council’s arguments that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the applicants had no locus standi as the wrong procedure was used.
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“The court rules that respondent has no power to demolish homes as stipulated in Section 74 of the Constitution which states that: ‘No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances’. Thus, the interdict order is granted and respondent is barred from demolishing the houses of applicants,” Gofa ruled.
Another resident said if the government insisted that the houses should be demolished, then they should be refunded their money or allocated alternative residential stands.
“We have poured so much money into the construction of our houses. We have taken loans from banks which we have to pay back, so we want a government guarantee that our investments will be protected,” she said.
However, Chitungwiza town clerk George Makunde said the meeting with Matiza had nothing to do with the issue of the stands that were subject to the court order. “The meeting was held to resolve concerns in some quarters of the community who wanted stands. The deputy minister outlined the process and procedures of giving out stands and envisaged the way forward,” Makunde said.
“The concept planning process is in motion and before it is complete, it’s difficult for any allocations to happen.”
Makunde said council would comply with the court order that halted the demolitions, but it was unfortunate that the construction of houses in wetlands was ignored.
Suspended Chitungwiza Ward 25 councillor Fraderick Mabamba (Zanu PF), who was accused of illegally parcelling out pieces of land to desperate home seekers through his United We Stand Housing Co-operative, last month insisted that everything he did was above board and the people to whom he sold the land were paying rates to the Chitungwiza Municipality.