GOVERNMENT and the opposition MDC Alliance blamed each other for demolitions in Budiriro high-density suburb in Harare that left hundreds of people homeless.
BY MOSES MATENGA
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, Messenger of Court and people claiming to be from the Harare municipal police demolished 150 houses on Tuesday, triggering the counter-accusations.
Government blamed the MDC-A led council for poor housing policies that allowed land barons to blossom under its watch.
On the other hand, MDC-A blamed government for allowing land barons, to occupy land for political gain only to dump them later and blame the opposition.
When NewsDay visited the Budiriro high-density suburb yesterday, hundreds of people, whose houses were demolished, werein the open together with their children and property by heavy rains that pounded that part of Harare.
Some of the affected people, who were interviewed by NewsDay, said thieves took advantage of their plight and stole household goods worth thousands of dollars.
Presidential Affairs spokesperson, Charamba said he had been briefed by authorities on the matter and accused the council of refusing to meet government and come up with a solution to the problem.
“I have just been talking to authorities in the Local Government ministry. It turns out the government invited the city fathers and developers to a meeting whose aim was to regularise the settlements upon certain planning preconditions being met.
“The city fathers snubbed the meeting as they were dead set on carrying out demolitions. Now the government is mulling providing tents to distressed families who stand exposed to the elements. Increasingly, it ranks horrid to call them city fathers,” Charamba said.
Information ministry permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana was among several government officials who blamed the Harare City Council for the demolitions.
Zanu PF acting deputy secretary for the youth league Tendai Chirau also accused the MDC council for the demolitions.
“Demolitions being presided over by the City of Harare without finding alternative shelter for the people in this rainy season are ill-timed and misdirected. This is the highest level of insensitivity and should be halted,” Chirau said.
But the MDC Alliance hit back, saying the demolitions were a result of Zanu PF infighting.
“At the centre of the crisis is Zanu PF land barons and illegal co-operatives whose corrupt conduct has led to the arbitrary allocation of land in a manner that does not comply with council by-laws.
“Additionally, it is reported that the Harare Provincial Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu has an interest in the demolition of houses because a large section of this land which the Zanu PF land barons and co-operatives raided belongs to him,” MDC Alliance secretary for local government Sessel Zvidzai said.
He said the demolitions were a result of Zanu PF factionalism and some party officials took advantage of Mafume’s incarceration to effect the demolitions after he had opposed them.
While the political elite were trading accusations, affected residents said they were left counting losses after armed police pounced on them, firing shots and beating them up before demolishing the houses.
“We were beaten by the police and other people who said they were from the council who came to demolish the houses. We paid over US$3 500 and we have been here since 2009. Now we are told to go, where are we supposed to go when we invested here?” a woman (65 years old), who identified herself as Primrose Gomo, said.
Others said they had consulted Zanu PF leaders in the community on the matter and they professed ignorance on who had sanctioned the demolitions.
Kays Gibson, one of the affected residents who has a small business, said he had lost property and groceries in the melee and pleaded with council and government to intervene.