By Nqobile Tshili
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has issued a 30-day eviction notice to scores of Mabutweni residents- including a woman who owes the local authority 47 cents- to vacate the municipality-owned houses.
The eviction letters are dated February, 23 and the residents are supposed to have left the houses by March, 23.
In the letters, the council accused the residents of leasing out the houses in breach of their agreements with council.
The residents have denied that they are sub-letting the houses. Council also cited delays in paying rent as another reason leading to the municipality repossessing the houses.
“The rent is not paid by the 7th of the following month and there is no explanation and that amounts to breach of the agreement. You owe the council the sum of $0.47,” read the eviction notice to one of the residents.
“Could you therefore show cause why council cannot repossess and re-allocate the property to deserving persons on the council waiting list within a month of this notice. Failure to respond council will proceed to repossess and re-allocate the property without further reference to you.”
The affected residents have since approached the area councillor Lot Siziba to express their displeasure.
In an interview yesterday, Clr Siziba said it was illegal for the council to evict the residents.
He said some of people that have been given eviction letters know no other home except the Mabutweni houses.
Clr Siziba said the eviction of the residents was a result of corruption in the council’s housing department.
“I’ve raised this issue more than once. How does the council know that these people are not the owners of these houses? How did it conduct its audit to make conclusions that these people are not occupying these houses,” said Clr Siziba.
He said he has engaged human rights lawyers to investigate the matter.
“I will be presenting this to both the full council meeting and the Town Clerk (Mr Christopher Dube) because these people have nowhere to go.
“The council should not repossess a house because its owner has died and children are now occupying the houses. Where are the children supposed to go?” he said.
Mr Dube said residents occupying municipality houses should abide by the city’s by-laws.
He said plans were on course to transfer the houses to individuals but before that breach of ownership such as sub-letting of the houses remained illegal. The Chronicle