By Tererai Karimakwenda
CHITUNGWIZA- The chaos and corruption that surrounds the allocation of land by the Local Government Ministry has struck again, and this time in Chitungwiza, where the local Council has been ordered to destroy at least 10,000 houses.
According to the Daily News newspaper, the directive came from the Local Government Ministry. The paper quoted Chitungwiza’s newly-appointed Mayor, Philip Mutoti, as saying: “There is an order that we destroy at least 10,000 houses built illegally.”
But there was no proposal of alternative housing for the thousands of people who would become homeless, should the directive be carried out.
The houses at risk in Chitungwiza have been deemed “illegal” by officials because they were built on wetlands and some are above sewer main pipes. But questions are being asked as to who allocated the plots in the first place and how could so many homes have been constructed without officials being involved.
Arthur Taderera from the Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHRRA) described the directive as “perpetuating madness”, and criticized both the Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and the Chitungwiza Council, for allowing the situation to get to this point.
“How can you have 10,000 houses coming up without the officials noticing it. They may say it was done corruptly, but it was through officials so you cannot punish the victim at both ends,” Taderera explained.
He added: “Who gave the people the stands in the first place? And if it was the Council, then why should they turn around now and want to destroy houses which have already been built before they build other houses for those people to get into.”
Taderera said it would be another “Murambatsvina” if the houses were destroyed, making reference to the government ordered destruction of homes and livelihoods that displaced nearly a million people in 2005.
“It was the most inhumane thing I have ever witnessed in my life and we as an Association would not want to see that.”
The activist also accused the Ministry of “perpetuating” corruption by allocating stands to families for cash, and then evicting them in order to make more money from the same stands.
Explaining the corruption further Taderera said: “First it was corruptly given. And now they are destroying it so that they can again corruptly allocate that same stand because they know those people will pay more money if it happens that way.”
Taderera described the Ministry of Local Government as “the mother ministry”, saying none of the corrupt deals could possibly be done without their knowledge.
But the Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo continues to function with impunity. He suspended several Harare councillors who investigated corrupt land deals that he was implicated in around the capital. And it appears he is stamping his authority in Chitungwiza as well. SW Radio Africa