Sharon Munjenjema Herald Correspondent
Harare City Council yesterday demolished 700 houses and makeshift structures in Eyestone, Harare South, with the affected residents complaining they were not warned of the action. Some of the affected settlers who spoke to The Herald said they were shocked by the local authorities’ arbitrary action.
“They just came and started bulldozing our houses without talking to anyone. We don’t even know what this is all about. We tried to talk to them and find out what’s going on, but they are not saying anything. We bought these stands through Mvurachenachena Housing Co-operative. Our houses were demolished again last year, but the leadership of our co-operative told us we won the court case and we were told to rebuild,” said Alice Masvosva, who had her house razed.
Another resident, Chiratidzo Madziva, said had council warned them of the demolitions, they would have prepared accordingly.
“We were never given any warning. If they had told us a week before or even in the morning, I would not have left for work. I had to be phoned by my neighbours and I rushed here only to find them already knocking down our house. These stands were advertised by Government Workers Association and we signed contracts and paid our money, never knowing it would end up like this,” she said.
Most of the affected residents said after buying the stands through various co-operatives, they later signed affiliation forms to join Harare South Housing Apex Cooperative Society. However, the society’s chairperson, Mr Tonderai Nkomo, said he wasn’t aware of how the stands were allocated.
“We never gave out stands there. These are people who were short-changed by other dubious co-operatives and we took it upon ourselves to represent them and made them pay a fee to be affiliated to us. We have been in and out of courts over the issue. Last week, we were told council cannot just demolish without showing us a court order allowing the demolition, but today they didn’t even want to hear of it; they just demolished,”said Mr Nkomo.
Vice chairperson of Mvurachenachena Housing Co-operative Mr Evans Shava said he was taken aback by the demolitions.
“We were given this land by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe(CAAZ) and Local Government in 2012. Last year, they (council) came to demolish our houses again and we went to court. We are also shocked that this is happening, we will go back to court,” he said.
Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the structures had to be removed because they were illegally built.
“We have all the necessary papers to remove those people. These structures were illegally built. 700 (houses) have been demolished, this is council land and it has to be properly planned,” he said.
Last year, City of Harare approached the High Court seeking eviction and demolition orders, accusing the members of failing to comply with the city’s laws and regulations.