WASHINGTON D.C. —
The Harare City Council continued Wednesday to demolish houses it says were built illegally in the capital.
Militant municipal police, accompanied by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, demolished houses in Budiriro 4 under various cooperatives, namely Ngungunyana, Tembwe and Tabudirira.
An unknown number of residents were arrested as they protested the demolitions.
There were pockets of violence that erupted in the process but the municipal police prevailed in the end with more houses expected to be destroyed Thursday.
The local authority says it is targeting 19 settlements it says are illegal in and around the capital.
Affected residents in Budiriro were furious, charging councilors worked in cahoots with government officials to allocate land to cooperatives , most of which are linked to Zanu PF, knowing too well that they were cheating the poor of hard-earned cash.
“How can they say we are illegal settlements when the authorities, especially the Zanu PF government, know how we go here,” said an angry Carlos Machingura of Together as One Cooperative in Budiriro.
“What is worse is that they are being so insensitive forgetting that we did not just settle ourselves here,” he said.
“I personally went to buy land from council and was personally driven by a senior official to this co-operative, they said council no longer sold land to people. They wanted our votes and now they do not care about us. It really is painful.”
Machingura says people are worried that they may never recover the money they used to buy the land on which they were constructing their houses.
“I paid $6,000 for this stand because before the election they were saying the president is saying everyone should be a homeowner and now we cannot sleep knowing too well they are coming to demolish our houses,” he said.
The Harare City Council maintains it is trying to crackdown on illegal structures. Observers have described the demolitions as another “Operation Murambatsvina” or Operation Clean-Up Filth that saw thousands left homeless in 2005.