Respect people's right to shelter

HARARE - The action by Chitungwiza municipality and the Epworth Local Board to wantonly demolish people’s properties is a direct affront to the country’s Constitution and Zimbabweans must begin to worry about whether ours can ever be a society that believes in constitutionalism.

During the crack of dawn on Friday, the two local authorities demolished properties that they deemed to have been illegally constructed rendering hundreds of people in the high density suburbs homeless.

The move was a clear violation 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 relevant circumstances.

In April, Chitungwiza magistrate, Marehwanazvo Gofa, granted Chitungwiza residents an interdict staying the demolitions after Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had ordered council to demolish all houses built on undesignated sites.

Notwithstanding that, council went on to launch surprise attacks on residents and razed down their properties.

Ironically however, the residents claim that they acquired the properties from the same council officials who were now at the forefront of demolishing them on grounds that they were illegally built.

While it is not proper to illegally occupy council land, it is the heavy handedness of the local authorities that citizens are concerned with.

In Epworth, representatives of the local authorities aided by armed policemen embarked on forced demolitions of several houses.

Some residents were even arrested for taking pictures of the authorities executing the demolitions while others were arrested for allegedly assaulting the local authorities’ officials.

It is sad that all this is happening at a time when government has promised to deal with the accommodation crisis that has led residents to take matters into their own hands.

Barley hours after Chombo announced that government would be availing 313 283 low income housing units to ease its 1,3 million-unit backlog, local authorities under his watch were doing the exact opposite of what he intends to achieve.

It is cause for concern for ordinary citizens that local authorities are the latest addition to all that stands in the way to good governance and  the rule of law as they wantonly violate the people’s right to shelter.

Comments (1)

Its very tragic that this govt and its local Authorities have become mini Gods. These people were conned, instead of bringing these conman to book its the victims who are tormented. This is bad, they don't care about the constitution. The president of the country is supposed to uphold the constitution of the country, if he violets it parliament has a duty to impeach him. If these parliamentarians do not no this, then its a circus.

KM - 29 September 2014

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