Obert Chifamba Manicaland Bureau
At least 760 families in Mutare’s Dangamvura Federation Phases 2 and 3 may soon be homeless if council enforces a High Court ruling authorising their forcible removal if they do not vacate the area voluntarily before December 31. The residents, who are members of the Federation of the Homeless, reportedly settled on land earmarked for industrial purposes and allocated each other stands without council approval, before building houses and makeshift homes.
Mutare council public relations officer Mr Spren Mutiwi told The Herald that council would be forced to act if the residents did not comply with verbal warnings to leave the place.
“Those people settled there without the authority of council,” he said. “Some even started selling land to desperate home-seekers purporting to be the owners of the land, while some settled along a railway line in a space that was earmarked for a railway siding. They are not safe there as trains can easily harm people, especially children.”
In an August 2, 2017 ruling, the High Court ordered that all occupants of stand numbers 4483, 4484 and 6808 Chikanga Township and a portion of 90-metre railway servitude were supposed to leave within five months, specifically before December 31 this year.
It further stated that if they failed to comply with the order, the Sheriff of the High Court or his lawful deputy were directed to evict them without further notice.
But the residents have vowed to stay put, saying they had bought the land from council and would only move after being allocated alternative land.
“This is not a permanent place,” said Mrs Violet Munakamwe. “We have stands in Dangamvura Federation; we are tired of renting, so we decided to find an open space that belongs to the council and stay there so that they can hear our grievances.
“They should have an alternative space for us because we paid money for these stands.”
Another resident, Mr Andrew Rafemoyo, said: “We will agree to go, but they should have a place for us. We can only go if our stands are ready, but if they can’t give us good land for stands we will not leave.”
The federation’s leaders are embroiled in power struggles with those in Federation Phase 1, accusing those leading the second and third phases of settling people illegally.
Their national coordinator, Ms Juliet Karonga, who is settled in Phase 1, said the settlers should be removed, as they were squatters.
“They are staying on land belonging to other people who already have agreements of sale having bought the land from council and we are helping the real owners to get offer letters so that they can engage police to remove the illegal settlers,” she said.
The other leader, Mr Silent Chakarisa, said the people were not going anywhere, as Member of Parliament for the area Cde Esau Mupfumi had promised to negotiate with council to spare them.
“Council must first find land for these people or change the industrial status to residential so that people can stay legally,” said Mr Chakarisa.
Cde Mupfumi could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press as his phone was not reachable.