By Helen Kadirire
Occupants of structures in illegal settlements sprouting across the capital city have been given 48 hours to remove them or risk having them destroyed by the city fathers, the Daily News can report.
Harare City Council (HCC) spokesperson Michael Chideme said the notices were issued to occupants of various illegal settlements, established ahead of the just-ended July 30 elections.
“The effect or end result of the 48-hour notices is that the illegal structures should be removed by those who erected them. Failure of which will result in council removing the structures on behalf of the illegal settlers. Harare cannot afford haphazard settlements,” he said.
Council has been buoyed by the support it has received from President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration against the land invasions.
In the past, the invaders had the tacit support from former president Robert Mugabe’s regime, which used to turn a blind eye on their activities in order to gain votes.
Chideme said council has a duty to ensure that all land is properly planned for and used for what it is zoned for.
Harare last conducted demolitions in 2016 after most of its land earmarked for schools, clinics and paddocks had been invaded and constructed on.
In various areas that have been occupied illegally, the invaders name their settlements after liberation war icons such as the late “Father Zimbabwe” Joshua Nkomo, Sally Mugabe, Josiah Tongogara, Jason Moyo and many others to scare away council officials.
After the demolitions in 2016, councillors made a resolution that no more invaded pieces of land would be regularised to discourage people from illegally grabbing the resource.
The city fathers have met with some challenges in their bid to root out indiscipline.
In February this year, council was interdicted by the High Court to stop demolitions of nearly 700 structures in Eyrecourt.
This was after Harare South Housing Apex Cooperative Society had approached the court to stop the demolitions, arguing that its members had occupied the land legally, as far back as 2012, in a partnership with the ministry of Local Government.
Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said the distribution of land as a campaign tool was in disregard of laid down procedures, to be met with demolitions and loss of property.
He said instead of ignoring aiding and abetting such practices, the authorities must put in place measures to inhibit politicians from parcelling out land illegally.
“Politicians should desist from using land as a campaign tool as the development is causing unnecessary confusion and displacement of unsuspecting beneficiaries. Some of the victims have lost their hard-earned money which they are made to pay for purposes of developing areas where they would have been allocated housing stands. Land must never be used as a campaign tool,” he said.
“It has always been the norm that during election time in Zimbabwe, housing stands are parcelled out to prospective voters but soon after the elections, the beneficiaries become victims of demolition of illegal structures,” added Moyo. Daily News.