THURSDAY was International Human Rights Day, yet this is a day at least 200 families in Budiriro and Aspindale in Harare will not want to remember. They were left homeless on this day after Harare City Council razed down their houses claiming they were illegal structures.
According to council, the houses were built on wetlands and on land reserved for a school and clinic and were close to water tanks.
Most of the affected families were members of Zanu PF-aligned housing co-operatives.
These demolitions exposed the hypocrisy of the ruling party Zanu PF. The action has also vindicated opposition parties’ claim that Zanu PF wants to use people only to dump them when it least needs them.
It is quite obvious that the demolitions were done with the blessing of Zanu PF and central government, otherwise, mayor Bernard Manyenyeni would be without a job today if it was indeed his initiative.
The country adopted a new Constitution which calls for respect of people’s fundamental rights.
Section 74 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution states: “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.”
The helpless Budiriro and Aspindale families were allocated the stands by Zanu PF and its land barons at the height of election campaign periods, obviously to win votes.
But when the city council came on Thursday with its bulldozers and razed down the structures, the Zanu PF land barons were not on site as they simply disappeared into thin air.
This time around they do not need the people’s votes as the 2018 elections are still a bit far. It is wrong for Zanu PF officials to illegally allocate land to unsuspecting people only to abandon them in their hour of need.
These families invested their life savings only to lose that in a matter of seconds. The rainy season is upon us and hundreds of children and women will be sleeping in the open because of Zanu PF’s insensitiveness.
Our question to the Harare City Council is that where were you when residents were building these so-called illegal structures?
The houses were not built in a day, but over years. Council officials live among the residents and they also carry out inspections. They saw foundations being built without raising any issue.
It would have been wise to stop the residents from building rather than to wait for them to exhaust all their lifetime investments and then destroy their structures.
Zanu PF, government and council must be held to account over this dastardly action.
They must do the honourable and compensate the affected families. It is also high time authorities arrested the real Zanu PF land barons who are duping people into buying land which is reserved for other purposes.