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CSOs condemn unconstitutional house demolitions

by Stephen Jakes
07 Oct 2015 at 06:45hrs | Views
Civic Society Organisations in Zimbabwe have jointly issued a statement condemning the massive demolition of houses in Harare and other parts of the country and the local authorities fought illegal settlements in their jurisdictions.

In their statement they said on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 a group of over 100 council officials descended on Budiriro and proceeded to demolish over 13 houses.

"This as you are aware was done without a court order and violates section 74 of the Zimbabwe constitution which states that, "No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances".

"Our investigations and subsequent engagements reveal that these actions were devoid of a full council resolution," reads the statement.

"Additionally, the evictions did not meet the international standards of conducting evictions in that no adequate notice was given to the victims, genuine consultations were not conducted with the victims, alternative accommodation was not provided to the victims who are still living in the open and the city council has not indicated that it will compensate the victims."

They said as a responsive body of residents associations in the Harare metropolitan province, the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) immediately convened a stakeholders meeting attended by CSOs listed below which led to subsequent engagements with the leadership at Town House.

 "On Friday, the 2nd of October 2015 at 10am, stakeholders met with the Mayor of Harare, Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni where a joint statement with three demands was read to him," reads the statement.

"The demands made were as follows; that City council institutes an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to the demolition of Budiriro houses without following due procedure and in contempt of a standing Court order. Investigate and cause the arrest of security details who beat and injured two residents of Budiriro who were lawfully trying to enforce their rights."

The CSOs said the City of Harare immediately find and organize alternative housing and shelter for the affected households.

"Families with children and the elderly are currently living in the open with the rainy season around the corner. The Mayor promised to thoroughly investigate the Budiriro 4 demolitions. He also promised to meet CSOs in the afternoon of the same day at his chambers where he released an official statement," reads the statement.

"The Mayor`s statement responded to the Stakeholders demands as follows; Comprehensive Investigation of the Demolitions. The Mayor noted that the, "matter is being handled by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and our future actions or investigation will be determined by police outcomes".

He noted that, "Again I would ask that the victims to file a report with the ZRP – this they should have done already. In the meantime, I will ask that the Acting Town Clerk does an internal investigation around our truck a Hino Reg. No AAE 8352 believed to have been involved in the alleged violence by the municipal police".

On housing Provision for Affected Families he stated that, "We are not in a position to provide any temporary accommodation or otherwise. We urge affected families to look for alternative shelter in particular for the vulnerable e.g. women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities".

On Land Barons he further stated that, "I urge all the affected to bring to the attention of the investigating authorities in the ZRP all the land barons or scam managers who may have presented themselves as planning authorities resulting in this mess".

On authorizations for demolitions the Mayor noted that, "Going forward such exercises must now carry an authorization order so that the performance can be attributed to a source of action and center of authority".

"We would like to acknowledge the role the Mayor has played in facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and the City of Harare over this issue. We however note the following gaps," reads the statement.

"The response by the Mayor has failed to address the following: Identify the root cause of the problem leading to unlawful demolitions, How to deal with the mushrooming land barons in the city of Harare, How to urgently assist the affected victims who are currently leaving in the open as the rainy season begins in Harare exposing children, the elderly, those living with disabilities and the terminally ill to various diseases. iv. How to use his authority to cause arrest of city council officers involved in the demolitions and the assault of two residents in Budiriro 4,."

They said they acknowledge the role of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who on Friday won a temporary Court relief stopping all further house demolitions. In view of the above, the Anti-Demolitions Coalition calls upon the Mayor of Harare who is also the Chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan provincial council to do the following:

 "Consider stepping down from Town House if he cannot use his office and constitutional duties to defend the rights of citizens. Residents are fast losing confidence in his ability to discharge his duties," reads the statement.

" Must release the report of the Budiriro Police who were investigating the demolitions and also release the names of Council officers who were involved in authorising demolitions without a court order. These officers do not deserve to work for a public entity and must be released from their stations for violating court orders. Release the names of the officers who were involved in the assault of residents in Budiriro and immediately institute disciplinary hearings as well as handing them over to the police. Get the names of the land barons involved and work closely with law enforcement agents to weed out these barons. The land being stolen by these land barons belongs to the City of Harare, hence the Council must be the complainant in this matter."

The CSOs said immediately call for the suspension of any further demolitions until thorough investigations have been conducted.

"We call upon the city of Harare to respect the rule of law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe by abiding by court rulings," reads the stastement.

"We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately fast-track the realignment of the Urban Councils Act and other pieces of local government legislation. Some of these problems emanate from a failure to understand and respect the new provisions of the supreme law of the land. We make this statement cognisant that today is International Habitat Day and call on the authorities to respect and fulfil our right to shelter. We also call upon the City of Harare, humanitarian agents and well -wishers to URGENTLY assist the victims by donating tents, food, sanitary wear and any other essentials to the affected residents. We reiterate our position to flood the city in our numbers if the City of Harare fails to address our concerns in the next 48 hours."

The organisations parttaking in the campaign are, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF), Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest), Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association (CHIPRA), Counselling Services Unit (CSU), Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), Election Resources Center (HZT), Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Simukai Residents Association, Amnesty International, Epworth Residents Development Association (ERDA), Norton Residents Association (NORA), Harare Residents Alliance (HARA), Community Water Alliance (CWA), Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHIRA), Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT) and Female students Network FSN).

Source - Byo24News

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