Chombo given seven-day ultimatum

HARARE - Human rights lawyers are dragging the minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo to court next week to stop the Chitungwiza demolitions after expiry of a seven-day ultimatum.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) made the ultimatum in a June 10, 2014 letter to Chombo, indicating that failure to respond within the stipulated time frame will result in them taking legal action against the minister.

The intervention by ZLHR comes after Chombo announced that government would demolish all illegal structures in Chitungwiza and Seke communal lands because of gross irregularities in the allocation of land, which he contends is a threat to health and the environment.

ZLHR said the proposed evictions and demolitions of housing structures will not only violate the new Constitution but impair the rule of law.

The rights lawyers have written to Chombo before in November and December 2013 and on May 24 this year. But there was no response or acknowledgement from the minister.

ZLHR said they prescribe to the Constitution which is anchored on the principles of good, transparent, accountable and responsible governance.

“We urge you to recommit to these values which you evidently have not been demonstrating through your failure to respond let alone acknowledge receipt of letters raising pertinent issues to the well-being of the citizens you were elected and appointed to serve,” read part of the ZLHR letter to Chombo.

“In these circumstances, should we fail to hear from you within the next seven days, we shall proceed to take all lawful steps available for the protection of the rights and interests of our clients without further notice to yourselves.”

The rights lawyers said Chombo must comply with provisions of section 74 of the 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.”

Among some of their demands is to know the exact figure of children to be affected by the proposed demolitions and the alternative accommodation to be provided in terms of section 28 of the Constitution.

Section 28 stipulates 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.”

 

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