THE Harare Metropolitan Residents’ Forum (Hamref) has urged Harare City Council to halt its planned demolition of illegal structures in Budiriro until the courts have ruled on the matter.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Hamref spokesperson, Marvellous Khumalo accused council of rushing to issue residents of Tembwe Housing Co-operative with 48-hour eviction notices before the courts had ruled on the residents’ application challenging the evictions.
“The housing co-operative’s lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed court papers pertaining to this issue around September last year when the houses were first demolished in August and the issue is still pending,” he said.
“We now think the city council is negotiating in bad faith because the courts have not yet made a decision, yet they are threatening to demolish the houses. We should exhaust the legal route and the engagement between council and residents, which we had initiated as Hamref.”
Khumalo said the recent threats to demolish the houses were suspicious and reeked of a hidden hand, which he said could be a political motive.
“We suspect there is a hidden hand behind all this because what the city council usually does is to give demolition orders and notices to demolish when people are unaware, thinking that everything is normal. We are afraid they will pounce on the residents when they least expect the demolitions, but this time around, the people are prepared to defend their properties,” he said.
Khumalo said the issue of ambushing people and demolishing their houses during odd hours had seen residents lose valuable property.
“The housing structures are the ones that are in question and not household property like furniture. We do not need this violence where people get injured during demolitions trying to remove their household items,” he said.
About 100 houses in Budiriro were demolished last August, with council spokesperson, Michael Chideme accusing residents of disregarding the local authority’s land use policies.
He said the land in question was meant for construction of schools, clinics and recreation facilities.