No more houses will be demolished during the rainy season after Harare City Council was barred by the Government from effecting court orders allowing demolitions of illegally-built houses until the season is over.
But the Government has stressed that the orders are valid, can be implemented when the rains are over, and that regularisation of unserviced land will be confined to areas where proper layout plans were prepared.
There will be no regularisation of unplanned stands on wetlands or land reserved for social amenities.
There are believed to be 22 demolition orders ready for implementation, all for a number of houses, and the Government’s move follows the demolition of 190 houses in Budiriro, Harare, last week by council on land reserved for a school, a move described as legal but badly timed since the rains are now falling.
Speaking last night after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said while the Government fully upholds the rule of law and does not interfere with the Judiciary and its orders, council should be sensitive on its timing when implementing the orders.
“As Government, while we support the court orders and we respect the orders given by the courts after the application by the Harare City Council.
“For the avoidance of doubt Harare City Council is the one which applied for those evictions. They got court orders. It’s only the timing, and we are now saying don’t carry out the rest of the evictions until there is an appropriate time when there is no rain,” he said.
Minister Moyo said the Government had no role in the Budiriro demolitions.
“Harare City Council took illegal occupants to court. To date it has secured 23 court rulings in its favour and 22 are yet to be executed. The executed one is against Events Housing Cooperative which is a splinter group from Tembwe Housing Cooperative,” he said, when referring to the Budiriro evictions and demolitions.
“It is not Government which took any of these to courts. The judgment of the court was on January 29, 2020, against the affected families. This was under case number 4457/19. The affected families were warned and given time when they should have vacated, but because some of these families listen to land barons they had not heeded the call.”
Minister Moyo said the city council then made an application to make sure that messengers of court were directed to go and evict.
“At the same time all those who have been given eviction orders should know that these eviction orders are legal instruments and therefore cannot be defied by individuals. As Government we uphold the rule of law. Unless individuals have gone to court to rescind these court orders those court orders will be effected at the appropriate time.”
“That appropriate time must take advantage of the situation where there is no rain. We don’t want, as Government, to throw people in the rain,” he said.
Minister Moyo said Government has made available alternative places where the evicted families can be housed. But he reiterated that those evicted cannot go back and build at those same places.
National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said according to the human settlement policy there are selected areas that will be regularised.
“By regularising what we are basically saying as Government is that there is need to be water, sewer, roads and ICT. This can be provided in areas that had been originally designated for human settlement,” he said.
“We are not talking about wetlands or areas that are set aside for social amenities. We refer to areas were people were properly settled and layout plans were produced and stands have got numbers, but for some strange reasons there were no services provided.”
Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Senator Oliver Chidawu emphasised that there was need for order if the country is to develop.
The call by the Government comes after acting Harare town clerk Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama said more demolitions were coming soon with specific reference to the High Glen area where illegal settlers invaded land earmarked for a football pitch.