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Residents' Group Petitions Mugabe to Stop Illegal House Demolitions

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

An umbrella body of residents’ representative groups operating in the Harare Metropolitan Province on Wednesday petitioned President Robert Mugabe and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri pressing them to take action against the current demolition of houses in Chitungwiza and Epworth.

Co-chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum, Simbarashe Moyo, told a news conference that his organization has petitioned President Mugabe to ensure that he upholds the country’s constitution that provides for the right to shelter.

This follows the on-going demolition of houses in Chitungwiza and Epworth as the Harare City Council has also started demolishing some illegal market stalls in the central business district.

According to Moyo, Chihuri must ensure that those breaching the country’s laws and ignoring court orders must be brought to book.

More than 300 houses were demolished by the Chitungwiza Town Council last Friday despite a court order barring the municipality from doing so.

However, Chitungwiza Town Clerk, George Makunde says his council only demolished houses that were not protected by the court order, adding that the structures were illegally built. But some affected residents claim that all their paperwork was in order and are questioning the move by authorities to destroy their houses and businesses.

On the other hand, Moyo said HAMREF would soon engage Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni with a view to stop the council from demolishing people’s houses and market stalls.

In recent weeks, the Harare City Council destroyed market stalls in the central business district arguing that the structures were erected without council approval.

HAMREF has given President Mugabe and Chihuri a seven-day ultimatum to take corrective measures.

Many victims of the demolitions are staying in the open following the current crackdown codenamed ‘Operation Makapapihwa Nani Ipapo’.

Faced with many challenges emanating from the demolitions, HAMREF said it will soon approach the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights over the matter.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe promised Chitungwiza residents in the run-up to last year’s national elections that noone would lose his or her property, adding that his administration would regularize all housing units. The president at that time blamed the situation on massive corruption in the Chitungwiza Town Council.