HomeEditorialsTiming of demolitions raises stink

Timing of demolitions raises stink

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THE ongoing demolition of illegal structures in Greater Harare smacks of a sinister motive by the architects of the project.

NewsDay Editorial

While on the face of it, the demolition exercise looks good as it seeks to restore order and rid the city of unplanned structures, the way it is being carried out and the timing of it raise a stink.

We challenge Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to come out clean over the matter and prove that the move is not politically motivated to portray MDC-T-led councils as anti-people. He should also prove that his office was not complicit in the mushrooming of the unwanted structures given its deafening silence over the issue during last year’s elections.

If indeed, Chombo hated these slums the way he now wants us to believe, why did it take him so long to act, given that he has been in charge of the ministry before and during the inclusive government era?

It’s public information that several Zanu PF-connected land barons have been named as fuelling the rise in illegal structures, but Chombo has not caused their arrest.

From the look of things, the MDC-T-led councillors might be used as pawns on a chessboard to lead the demolitions and in the long run, dent their public image and portray them as pursuing anti-people policies, ahead of the 2018 plebiscite.

For all intents and purposes, Chombo should be the last person to commandeer bulldozers to raze residents’ so-called illegal structures because he has presided over this mess since around 1996 and failed to come up with a sound housing policy to address the country’s urban planning and accommodation crisis.

It’s a shame that Chombo still seems not to have learnt a lesson from the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina disaster where he presided over the demolition of thousands of “illegal structures” countrywide that left over 700 000 people homeless, without providing alternative accommodation for them.

His alternative — Operation Garikai — was like a drop in the ocean as it failed dismally to arrest the national housing backlog.

In normal circumstances, government leaders such as Chombo should just resign or be relieved of their duties for failing to deliver on basics.

Ironically, Chombo has again launched another demolition exercise shortly after announcing plans to roll out 200 000 housing units in the next three years.

It would have made more sense for government, in conjunction with local authorities, to provide alternative accommodation and simply transfer these slum dwellers to official homes before razing the illegal structures.

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