New Zimbabwe (London)

25 July 2014

Zimbabwe: 750 Families to Lose Homes in Mutare Demolitions

ABOUT 750 families could be left homeless in the eastern border city of Mutare if the city council presses ahead with plans to demolish "illegal" structures near Dangamvura.

The houses are part of the Homeless Federation Housing Project Phase Two.

City councillors are arguing the settlement is illegal and is posing a serious health hazard to residents of Dangamvura suburb.

Mutare filed a court case against the 756 inhabitants of Homeless Federation Housing Project Phase Two in Dangamvura which it won in the High Court in 2012.

The council argued the respondents took occupation of stands without meeting the minimum requirements set by the local authority in its planning and building bylaws.

In his founding affidavit, Mutare Town Clerk, Obert Muzawazi, said buildings erected by the respondents were shacks and were unfit for human habitation.

Muzawazi also said the structures did not meet the minimum requirements provided for under the Housing and Control Act Chapter 29:08.

His affidavit was supported by City Engineer Donaldson Nyatoti who said the respondents were in breach a section of the Regional Town Country Planning Act.

After its submissions, the local authority was granted a court order to destroy the illegal shacks but to date nothing has been implemented.

Speaking at a full council meeting last week, Councillor Crispen Dube (Ward 7) queried why the council had not implemented the court order to bring sanity at Federation where most occupants are reported to be ruling ZANU PF supporters and war veterans.

He said by not taking action council was setting a bad precedent to other housing schemes such as Gimbok where illegal allocation of land was fast becoming the order of the day.

"We need to bring sanity to what is happening in Federation and Gimbok. Some people are fast becoming land barons. We have a court order. Why are we not implementing it to bring sanity?" queried Dube.

Acting director of housing and community services, Sternard Mapurisa, said there were legal issues which must be considered because the land on which the houses were built had been purchased.

"There are legal connotations because the land would have been purchased from us. Where there are squabbles people should sort themselves out.

"We believe people are now cooperating and we should find the best way to engage and solve these disputes. We should also remember that there are political ramifications," he said.

Federation members who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said they would not vacate the area until the local authority finds an alternative place for them.

"Where do they expect us to go? We were allocated land and we paid our money and they cannot kick us out like animals; we are human beings," said one of the residents, Killen Mapira.

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