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30 Families Stranded as Zimbabwe City Demolishes 'Illegal' Houses

Harare City Council in action demolishing houses owned by some local people. (Photo: Courtesy - CHRA)

The Harare City Council today demolished 50 houses said to have been constructed illegally near High Glen Shopping Centre.

According to Simbarashe Moyo, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents’ Association, the affected people have now been left in the open with nowhere to go.

He told VOA Studio 7 the houses are tied to so-called land barons, who collect large sums of money from unsuspecting residents and then construct illegal structures in the city.

“Today the city of Harare continued its program of demolishing houses and they are saying these houses were constructed on illegal sites … And the issue of land barons is coming in so they are saying ‘we want to clean the city, we want things to be done orderly’.

“As residents we are worried because the rains are around the corner and we are talking of more than 30 families that have been left in the open after their houses were demolished.

He said the people, who constructed the houses did that through a local cooperative “and we are told that there are some land barons that parceled the land to themselves and ended up selling it to the people.”

Interview With Simbarashe Moyo on House Demolitions
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Harare city councilor Peter Moyo said the local inhabitants should never construct any illegal structures.

“There are some people who invaded open space in Harare. Some are in wetlands, some are on sewer pipes and water (reticulation systems), some are under ZESA electricity cables … So, those houses are not suitable to be built on those areas.”

He noted that some of the land barons include politicians, businessmen and some so-called untouchables linked to top politicians in Zimbabwe.

“There are some people who are doing it for political expediency, so those people will just take the law into their own hands,” said Moyo.

Interview With Peter Moyo on Harare House Demolitions
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The Harare City Council in conjunction with the police and other state agents recently demolished illegal houses in some parts of the city claiming that land barons parceled out illegal land to unsuspecting people.

A few years ago, Zimbabwe embarked on a clean up exercise known as Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Remove Filth), which left more than 700,000 people homeless. Some of them are still homeless despite the government’s claims that the victims of the exercise were resettled under a scheme called Operation Hlalani Kuhle (Operation Settle Well).