THE continued demolishing of illegal structures and the hanging threat of more destruction of houses in Harare raises more questions than answers.
It is imperative that Harare City Council be asked where it was in the past few years when these settlements were sprouting and if would not have been prudent to nip this in the bud.
The settlement along Airport Road, in particular, had been growing for the past few years and it is curious that the council turned a blind eye to this.
One wonders whether the councillors would have sprung into action had President Robert Mugabe not said anything.
We are not condoning illegal settlements, but it must be pointed out that if the settlement was built against city by-laws, the local authority should have acted pro-actively rather than retroactively, as this only creates anguish and anger.
Another curious thing is that some of the houses had electricity and with this in mind, an evil chain of impropriety begins to emerge, and the settlers begin to emerge as victims.
Firstly, how could council allow the settlement to mushroom and do nothing about it for all these years and how did a utility such as Zesa move in to install electricity on some of these houses?
If Zesa was not responsible for the connections, then these were illegal and the power utility’s loss control division should have been able to detect this. If Zesa could not detect such an anomaly, then we can only wonder how many illegal connections go undetected and how much this is costing the power utility.
Secondly, and more importantly, what is the role of the Local Government ministry in the setting-up of these settlements that are later deemed illegal?
It beggars belief that a whole illegal settlement can sprout anywhere in the country without the knowledge of the Local Government ministry and it is incumbent that they explain what happened.
The owners of those structures that were demolished should also explain who they paid money to for the land on which they built their houses and what happened to the title deeds of that land.
They would not have set up those structures if they did not believe they were the rightful owners of those pieces of land.
This is a classic example of where the money trail should be followed and ultimately, it will expose the level of rot and corruption in some high-up offices.
Now that their structures have been demolished, the owners of those properties should be in a position to lay criminal charges against whoever sold them the land in the first place and hopefully we can get to the bottom of this saga that reeks of corruption.