Slum clearance unconstitutional

HARARE - Right lawyers have reminded Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to consider his constitutional obligations to ensure that all evicted persons will be provided alternative accommodation as government embarks on a slum clearance drive that started in Ruwa.

Chombo addressed a press conference  on October 31 where he advised that he would be demolishing “illegal structures “within  two weeks.

The reasons given for this proposed course of action included allegations that there were gross malpractices in the allocation of land and that this has spawned environmental risks.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in a letter written to Chombo yesterday that as a human rights organisation and acting in the public interest, it was  concerned that the slum clearance will not only violate the Constitution, but impair the rule of law.

“We therefore write to seek your urgent confirmation that the procedures for eviction as set out in the new Constitution as well as the common law principles against unlawful spoliation will be followed,” ZLHR said in the letter to Chombo.

“In particular, we stress that the provisions of Section 74 of the new Constitution must be complied with.”

The new Constitution guarantees freedom from arbitrary eviction and states: “No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.”

ZLHR said: “We therefore request that you provide us with the following information: How many households will be affected, in particular how many children will be rendered without shelter?

“What will be the duration of the notice period given to the affected persons, and in what form shall the notice be?”

ZLHR gave Chombo  72 hours to furnish them with the requested information.

Chombo’s office has confirmed receipt of the letter.

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