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Chitungwiza demolitions war escalates

By Tafadzwa Kachiko

Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust has filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking to bar the government and local authorities in Harare Metropolitan Province from demolishing “illegal” informal businesses structures.

File picture of a home demolition
File picture of a home demolition

The applicants, CHITREST director Alice Kuvheya and its trustees, cited Chitungwiza Municipality, City of Harare, Ruwa and Epworth local boards, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, as well as Local Government minister July Moyo and his Transport counterpart Felix Mhona and police commissioner general Godwin Matanga, as respondents.

This follows seperate press statements released by the Harare provincial development coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti, Chitungwiza Municipality and Ruwa Local Board warning about demolitions scheduled for this week.

In the urgent chamber application under case HC 2857/21, Scanlen and Holderness representing the Chitungwiza residents argued that the intended demolitions were unlawful as no court order was granted.

“The intended operation is unlawful as no court order has been granted to carryout these demolitions and evictions.

“In addition, no adequate notice has been given. There is basis for challenging the conduct of the respondents,” read part of the application.

“The matter is urgent. The applicants seek relief from the respondents to ensure that the intended demolitions are interdicted by this honourable court.

“The accompanying affidavit and documents are tendered in support of the application.”

In an attached certificate of urgency, lawyer Hazel Sibanda said the impending demolitions required urgent intervention by the High Court.

“The orchestrated plan has involved members of the police who have been invited to be part of this operation,” Sibanda said.

“The police have not distanced themselves from these statements.

“The actions of the respondents are palpably unlawful.

“Members of the public and specific informal traders stand to suffer irreparable harm through loss of life, livelihoods and property.

“(So) These plans require urgent interception by this honourable court.”

In her founding affidavit Kuvheya argued that there was a premeditated plan to use “devastating force” on citizens.

“Given the threat issued by the respondents, there is an imminent danger of loss of life, livelihoods and loss of property.

“With respect to livelihoods, there is hardly any viable industry in Chitungwiza and most families survive on trade and informal business for day to day living.

“The consequences of such a loss of livelihood would be sure,” she said.

“There is no other adequate remedy other than an interdict to stop the joint operation being planned by the respondents.” The Standard