Innocent Ruwende and Freeman Razemba
Harare City Council yesterday demolished 11 houses built on undesignated land in Glen Norah as it moves to restore sanity in the city. This comes as the city is carrying out a blitz against illegal vendors who were wreaking havoc in the central business district (CBD) selling various goods to the extent of roasting maize on pavements.
Council workers, who were protected by municipal police, destroyed 11 houses belonging to a bogus housing cooperative which were at various stages of construction along Kunzekweguta Road and at Makonye in Glen Norah.
A fortnight ago, the city had served the illegal settlers with two week-notices in terms of Section 18(2) of the Urban Councils (Model) (Use and Occupation of Land and Buildings By-Laws Statutory Instrument 109/1979).
The Urban Councils Act empowers local authorities to put and enforce by-laws that prohibit illegal structures.
Illegal structures are buildings erected without approval from the authorities.
The city’s principal communications officer Mr Michael Chideme yesterday confirmed that Harare was carrying a citywide blitz on illegal activities urging residents not to buy land without consulting the city.
“We are going ahead with the removal of illegal structures in Harare. We urge residents not to participate in illegal housing schemes because they will be the biggest losers in the end.
“We also urge anyone who has bought land illegally to report to the police for them to recover their money. We are geared for an orderly and well planned city which resonates with our vision for a world class city in 2025,” he said.
Mr Caesar Kunaka, chairperson of an alleged bogus Zimbabwe Bird housing co-operative said his members did not contest the eviction as they were served with papers two weeks ago.
“We were served with notices last week,” he said without giving further details.
Last month, Government directed municipalities to manage land use after noting that land barons were parceling out open spaces reserved for other purposes to home seekers.
Harare has roughly 20 illegal settlements.
Meanwhile illegal vending continued yesterday in most parts of the city save for areas near Town House where the city pulled down tents and broke some tables.
Although there was no action by the city in its quest to remove illegal vendors from the city’s pavements yesterday, Mr Chideme said council was going ahead with the relocation of vendors.
“It is a process we are undertaking. We will make sure the Central Business District gets the respect it deserves.
Police yesterday said they are still investigating the case in which goods, including bales of second-hand clothes worth thousands of dollars belonging to illegal vendors, were burnt to ashes in Harare last week. Unknown assailants who were reportedly driving a pick-up truck without registration numbers are said to have started the fire.
The incident occurred at the Rezende Street footbridge at around 3am and police are still investigating the suspected case of arson.
The pro-MDC-T National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) director Mr Samuel Wadzai yesterday said they had since engaged their lawyers to sue Government and Harare City Council over the issue.
“We have since engaged our lawyers and by end of tomorrow (today) all the legal processes against Government and City of Harare will be ready,” he said.
He said by yesterday they had ascertained that 38 of their members lost their wares valued over $17 000 and they were still conducting their investigations.
Some of the vendors alleged that municipal police had torched the goods.
But chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last week said an informant had told police that occupants in a pick-up truck without registration number plates caused the fire.
Acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube also denied the allegations that municipal police had torched the goods.
“Our investigations show that the fire was started by their (illegal vendors) guards who were trying to warm themselves,” she said.