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Zanu PF in dramatic U-turn

by Staff Reporter
29 Jun 2021 at 12:32hrs | Views
UNDER-FIRE Zanu PF yesterday made a dramatic U-turn and ordered a stop to the demolition of all illegal structures in the country, including in Harare, Chitungwiza and Melfort in Mashonaland East province.

Local authorities in Harare, Chitungwiza and Goromonzi, with the assistance of the police, have, on orders from government, been demolishing illegal structures, leaving many people homeless and also destroying their sources of income since three weeks ago.

However, yesterday, the ruling party summoned Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo and the National Housing and Amenities minister Daniel Garwe to the party headquarters for a hastily arranged meeting and ordered a stop to the destruction with immediate effect.

"We summoned the two ministers responsible for urban planning and that of national housing, July Moyo and Daniel Garwe, respectively. We want to put it on record that Garwe came for the meeting while Moyo was spoken to on the phone and he agreed to the outcome of the meeting," Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu told a Press conference.

He said Zanu PF was concerned with the "inhumane" demolition of properties in the affected areas.

"There have been ongoing demolitions in Mashonaland East province, Harare and Chitungwiza, leading to unwarranted loss of shelter and sources of income for our people. The party's first secretary and President Emmerson Mnangagwa and all party officials uphold the right to shelter and human dignity. We, therefore, order that the current demolitions should stop forthwith."

Mpofu said the party would hold a meeting today to decide how to compensate those affected by the demolitions.

"We are going to have a meeting tomorrow (today). It's an all-stakeholders meeting which is aimed at resolving the matter. We will do it after the Cabinet meeting. We need to solve this matter, which has affected our people, urgently," he said.

Thousands of home-seekers and informal traders have been affected by the demolition of houses, and government has been blaming the MDC Alliance-led councils, while the opposition, in turn, blames government for the chaos.

"This decision is binding even to the government. Government is a Zanu PF government, that's why ministers of the various sectors here and the president of the party is the President of the country. There are no contradictions, we are talking of things happening under our government," Mpofu said.

However, documents seen by NewsDay show that Zanu PF had initially okayed the Melfort project, whose houses were demolished last week.

Apparently, the developer and the residents were ordered to vacate the area after losing a court battle six months ago, but were defiant.

The ministry wrote to Eastwinds Properties, which was developing the area, on September 22 last year instructing the firm to immediately stop selling any more land to home-seekers and to discontinue all developments until all legal matters were resolved.

Close to 1 000 people, among them war veterans and people living with disabilities, were left counting losses after the Goromonzi Rural District Council (RDC) demolished their houses.

The Melfort stands project, popularly known as Diamond Park, attracted the interest of government with the National Housing ministry leading efforts to transform the area into a smart city.

On September 18 last year, Mnangagwa was expected to officiate at the housing project, before cancelling the trip at the last minute.

Government erected billboards along the Harare-Mutare Highway, in support of the project which was destined to change the face of Goromonzi.

The billboards are still at the site.

Several ministers, among them the late Joel Biggie Matiza, who was also the ruling party's provincial boss, top Zanu PF national executive members and National Housing deputy minister Yeukai Simbanegavi toured the project, where they expressed satisfaction with how it was planned.

According to a letter dated September 22, 2020, addressed to project director, Rodgers Pote of Eastwinds Trust, and signed by National Housing permanent secretary Thedious Chinyanga, government resolved to regularise the Melfort settlement.

"I want to draw your attention to a meeting held between ministries of National Housing and Social Amenities and Local Government and Public Works on the 21st instant, in respect of the above subject. In the alluded to meeting, it was agreed that regularisation of Diamond Park will subsist, going forward," the letter read.

"To that end, the ministries have directed that the Department of Physical Planning in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and the local authority (Goromonzi RDC) will straight away engage, with a view to regularise the Melfort Housing settlement."

Pote told NewsDay that the demolitions were illegal as the matter was still before the courts despite that the Goromonzi RDC was armed with an eviction order issued in December last year.

The Diamond Park project has 1 300 residential stands.

But in response to the Melfort demolitions, Garwe last Friday told NewsDay that the developer, Eastwinds Properties, had ignored court orders and other efforts to stop the development.

"The Melfort land in question was occupied by a company called Eastwinds Properties represented by Rodger Pote in 2018. In an attempt to develop the land, the company parcelled out pieces of land at a premium while not providing the requisite offsite and onsite infrastructure," Garwe said.

"On December 1, 2019, the then Zanu PF chairman of Mashonaland East and Minister of Transport, the late Hon Joe Biggie Matiza, called for a Melfort stakeholder meeting to find a lasting solution for the illegal settlement."

He said a decision was made with the understanding that the developer was a holder of a genuinely legitimate offer letter from government.

Garwe said the legal battle revolved around the ownership of the land between the developer and Goromonzi RDC, which falls under the of Local Government and Public Works ministry.

He said the Goromonzi RDC disputed the authenticity of the developer's permit

Source - NewsDay