Zimbabwe: Lawless Demolitions Fuel Corruption

(File photo).
24 June 2021

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) says the ongoing demolitions in Harare and Chitungwiza are fueling corruption as they are not done in accordance with the law.

In a statement Thursday, CHRA called upon the government and local authorities to follow the law and desist from acting as both referee and player when effecting demolitions as this fuels corruption, maladministration and weakens accountability.

The government through local authorities and the police have been on a controversial drive to demolish illegal structures with the aim to bring back "sanity" in both cities.

However, the demolition has taken away people's livelihoods, whose main source of living depends on the vending stalls which were destroyed.

"The demolitions that were carried out in Mbare last weekend clearly show that there is no will to follow the law and the constitution by both the central government and the City of Harare.

"Apart from the standing Court Order obtained by CHITREST on behalf of Chitungwiza and Harare residents, the government and Harare City Council went on to demolish informal sector structures in Mbare," the statement reads.

CHRA further asserted that any demolition that has the potential to violate human rights should be accompanied by a High Court Order as provided by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

"The current mess affecting the planning of our City, which has seen the sprouting of "illegal" car sales, tuck shops, houses on wetlands is a result of corrupt elements within the government, local authorities, and political parties hence demolishing these structures without Court orders will protect and benefit these elements while impoverishing the victims," CHRA said.

Section 162 of the Constitution vests judicial authority in the courts and the role of the courts is paramount in safeguarding human rights and freedoms and the rule of law.

"The doctrine of separation of powers is very clear that the courts interpret the law and determine what the law is and we do not expect the central government and its lower tiers to usurp the powers of the courts," the statement said.

Experiences from the past, CHRA added, have shown that demolitions without Court Orders cover up tracks of abuse of power, corruption, and maladministration that have been contributing to the sprouting of "illegal" structures.

"We further amplify the words of Justice Bhunu that "those in the corridors of power must not abuse their authority by usurping the functions of the courts to the detriment of innocent members of society."

"Constitutional adherence and compliance are fundamental for our local government system to promote local economic development.

"We call upon the depoliticization of the informal and housing sectors as this has created a high level of lawlessness and corruption in these key sectors.

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