Demolitions: Rights lawyers warn Chombo

HARARE - Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s threat to evict and demolish houses for “illegally-settled” Chitungwiza and Manyame rural residents has been branded unconstitutional by rights lawyers.

Chombo issued a three-week ultimatum last week to Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural District Council residents to destroy their illegally-constructed houses.  

The houses in question are those built on wetlands, on top of sewer pipes and under powerline servitudes and are still under construction.

About 14 000 families will be affected by the evictions.

“The proposed evictions and demolition of housing structures will not only violate the Constitution but impair the rule of law,” Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said.

“The government particularly the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry headed by Ignatius Chombo must assure citizens that the government will follow the dictates of the law in executing the planned evictions and demolition of property given the fact that Zimbabwe has entered a new constitutional dispensation, which provides for the protection of the basic human rights of the people.

“ZLHR reserves the right to institute legal action to protect citizens’ rights which are on the verge of being violated.”

In 2005, government embarked on a slum clearance operation known as Murambatsvina where over

700 000 people were displaced.

Government has argued that people exposed themselves to danger by settling close to high voltage power pylons, on wetlands and disregarded urban and rural planning by-laws.

The rights lawyers said the eviction and planned demolitions violated several key protective provisions of the new Constitution such as the right to shelter and freedom from arbitrary eviction enshrined in Section 74.

“So the government must comply with the provisions of Section 74 of the new Constitution which states that 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,” Mafunda said.

“In taking any action that the government has threatened to, it must honour its constitutional obligations before rolling out the planned forced evictions of residents.”

Mafunda said Chombo should furnish the public with the duration of the notice period given to the affected families and persons.

He said the right to shelter was a key provision under the new Constitution.

Section 28 of the Constitution states that: “The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to them, to enable every person to have access to adequate shelter.”

Comments (13)

The people who are ordering the destruction of illegal settlements own many properties and farms. As a gesture of empathy and fellow humans can they not donate some of their ill-gotten properties for the desperate members of society to have some place to call home? Come on Ignatius, Obert, Phillip and Robert please show the way and "donate" some of "your" properties to the poor!

Feldman Bandura - 15 April 2014

allow chombo to proceed these are the people who were hoodwinked to vote for zpf. chombo merely makes threats to the zpf land barons, and proceeds to destroy the homes of the defenceless. let the homes be destroyed as a matter of urgency. so the whole country may learn and understand how evil is zpf.

gwabu - 15 April 2014

Demolitions make us poorer! Demolitions misuse resources! Demolitions reduces us to beggars! Demolitions makes us homeless while Chombo and his crew enjoy good living without rentals! Demolitions are ANTI Zanu PF. Demolitions are demonic. Demolitions are devilish and without heart. If demolitions are allowed Gumbura MUST be set free like yesterday. Who is better Gumbura or Chombo! Chombo to Chikurubi and Gumbura out from Chikurubi! nxa!

Its NOW evil Chombo not ZANU pf - 15 April 2014

The people of Manyame and Chitungwiza hava no problem because they are building proper structures. Has the Honourable Minister looked at matangwena being built pano paMALAPYE just next to Mainway Meadows in Waterfalls by the so called EX Combatants. the place has become a hub for criminals and prostitution.

JAMES AMIVA - 15 April 2014

MAHALAPYE is some place that has reduced the prices in Mainway Meadows by half if not less. There is disorderliness, imagine they drink water from WELLS that are a metre or so from the BLAIR toilets. ko ndiyo RETREAT yacho here because they also call the place ku RETREAT. Manyame and Chitungwiza are orderly as compared to this shanty surburd just close by but noone seems to be noticing them

James Amiva - 15 April 2014

Its not surprising if the same human rights lawyers advocate for defecating in the streets and homosexuality, Pwanyai tu Tangwena itwo , The majority is hundred percent behing you minister Chombo.

reason - 15 April 2014

Ndiroka bhora mugedhi. Zanu iya imi munobvumirei kushandiswa. Zanu ndokuti varoyi, mbavha etc nxaaa.

Tsvangi supporter - 15 April 2014

Government should first build houses for these people because they were allocated the stands by the same government when election mode was in full throttle. The corrupt officials that swindled money from home seekers should be made to contribute. The sooner such an operation is carried out the better before disease outbreaks or serious accidents happen for those that have built their houses close to power lines and on top of sewer pipes.

Dr Know - 16 April 2014

if the houses are built under zesa pilons yes they should be demolished for their safety but if on wetland,no for the government including chombo's office approved those people's housing plans.Why are they now talking of demolitions when they have scored nicely.Bhora mugedhi nezanu yenyu.

benzi - 16 April 2014

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