Scores of families in Harare were left homeless on Friday after police demolished their homes for reasons that remained unclear, while about 100 people on a farm near the Midlands town of Kadoma were also seeking shelter after the razing of their shacks.
Local sources police descended on the Zvivanikwa Ngazviwande (Abundant Natural Resources) Housing Cooperative in Harare's Mufakose early Friday and demolished about 50 homes. Residents said police told them they had received orders from city authorities to demolish the structures, which were said to be unauthorized.
No Harare city officials could be reached for comment on the operation.
Mufakose residents said the demolitions came as a surprise as most beneficiaries of the housing cooperative are supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mufakose parliamentarian Paurina Mpariwa-Gwanyanya of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that no one should be forced out of his or her home regardless of political affiliation - the more so when the effects of the government's 2005 forced eviction and demolition campaign still linger.
In Kadoma, meanwhile, farm workers said police destroyed their homes and property early Thursday amidst a national crackdown on illegal gold panning. Authorities have made more than 16,000 arrests for illegal mining activities since late November, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported this week, and police have been demolishing makeshift shelters built by miners near their workings.
Workers at Mandel Farm said police assaulted them and forced them to demolish their own homes, then obliged them to sing and dance for more than four hours.
The labourers said most of them were forced to pay a Z$500 admission-of-guilt fee for supposedly engaging in illegal gold panning. More than 100 people were affected by the police operation, including orphans and infants, witnesses said. The plight of the homeless was made worse as heavy rains lashed the region since Thursday.
Police Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the Zimbabwe Republic Police had nothing to do with the demolition operation in Mufakose and Kadoma.
Judith Kumbula, one of the Mandel Farm dwellers who lost their homes, told reporter Blessing Zulu that she and others there have been left in destitution.