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Vendors petition High Court over demolitions

By Ivan Zhakata

Informal traders and residents’ associations have filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order to stop local and central Government from demolishing their vending stalls and tuckshops countrywide.

The demolition of homes built without planning permission is a common occurrence in Zimbabwe
The demolition of homes and other structures built without planning permission has become a common occurrence in Zimbabwe

In an application filed on Sunday by Dr Tarisai Mutangi and Moses Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, informal traders, residents and residents’ associations protested that the widespread demolition by local and central Government personnel of tuckshops, vending stalls and other property used by small and medium enterprises and informal traders was unlawful and should be stopped immediately.

The informal traders, residents and residents’ associations represented by Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust and Kushinga Epworth Residents’ Association want the High Court to interdict local authorities and central Government from demolishing any tuckshops and vending stalls.

Local authorities have been demolishing informal traders’ market stalls and tuckshops across the country after Minister of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo briefed local authorities about a recent Cabinet resolution and told them to “take advantage of the national lockdown to clean up and renovate small and medium enterprises and informal traders’ workspaces” and implored them “to make every effort to comply with the resolution”.

The local authorities then told owners and users of tuckshops and vending stalls to pull down their tuckshops and vending stalls, or face their demolition, and immediately started destroying properties.

The informal traders and residents argued that Minister Moyo’s circular was unlawful as it was not issued in terms of any law and that there was no law which required local authorities to execute Cabinet resolutions outside the provisions of the applicable laws.

Informal traders and residents argued that the demolition of tuckshops and vending stalls by local authorities amounted to compulsory deprivation of property in violation of the fundamental right to property enshrined in the Constitution since the affected owners and users of tuckshops and vending stalls paid fees and levies to local authorities and had not consented to the destruction.

Local authorities, the informal traders and residents said, have been indiscriminately demolishing tuckshops and vending stalls without any consultation with the affected citizens, including those who have been paying fees and levies to councils.

By demanding such fees and rates, local authorities acknowledged the legal existence of the affected vending stalls and tuckshops and could suddenly deem them illegal structures, the informal traders argued. The Herald

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