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Harare Council Threatens to Demolish Illegal Houses in Posh Suburbs

FILE: Hundreds of residents have been left homeless in Chitungwiza and Epworth following house demolitions Friday. (Courtesy Photo)

The Harare City council is warning home owners in low density suburbs who built their homes without approval from council to regularize their plans or risk demolitions.

The council has in the past targeted illegal structures in high density suburbs but now says it would conduct similar demolitions in low density areas.

Acting communications manager for the Harare City Council, Michael Chideme, said there is an overwhelming response among people interested in legalizing their building plans with the council following a media blitz in the local press highlighting this issue.

Chideme urged local residents, who want to legalese their plans, to contact local district offices urgently or risk demolitions.

"We are urging those that built their homes without their plans being approved by council to visit their district office to have them regularized as we cannot risk having structures built illegally fall on dwellers as they would not have passed inspection," said Chideme.

He said although there is no timeline, residents in affected low density suburbs should urgently take action to ensure that they are not affected by demolitions.

"We are aware that some of the houses were built on legal stands but the plans used were not approved by council and this makes them illegal structures."

Some of the affected low density suburbs include Mount Pleasant Heights, Pomona, Belvedere West, and others.

"We are urging those that know that they built their houses without approval to bring their documents urgently so that we can review and approve them, and our turnaround is 14 days so the earlier people come to our offices the better," said Chideme.

The Zimbabwean government embarked on an exercise to clean its capital a few years ago under a programme codenamed "Operation Murambatsvina" or "Operation Remove Filth, which left thousands of people homeless.

Chideme said the aim of the Harare City Council is not to just demolish the houses without giving residents living in illegal structures a chance to regularize their plans and building structures.

"Our aim is to make sure that we can provide some of these low density suburbs with illegal structures a chance to also receive service delivery that is provided to those paying rates, so once this is done it will be easy to provide these services to those living in these areas," says Chideme

Interview With Michael Chideme
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