Chitown demolitions: Govt to ensure sanity prevails
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE government will, where possible, regularise houses and other buildings while also demolishing some illegal settlements in Chitungwiza to ensure sanity prevails in the satellite town, a ministry official has said.
This comes as the local authority was last week forced to stop demolishing houses in St Mary’s, Zengeza, Seke and Nyatsime after it was challenged to produce a court order by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights authorising it to do so.
It also comes amid complaints by officials at the local authority that the Harare provincial development coordinator, Tafadzwa Muguti, had given the directive for the demolitions without the approval of the city fathers.
But speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Muguti insisted that as the most senior civil servant in Harare Province, he had authority over both the capital city and the satellite town’s affairs.
“I am the highest ranking civil servant in both local authorities, which are under the purview of the ministry of Local Government, hence I have the power to coordinate everything there. We are going to regularise some areas where it is possible, but we are not going to tolerate land barons.
“Councillors do not have executive authority, which means that the town clerk, who reports to the ministry, has. However, now that provincial coordinators were appointed in September, they no longer directly report to the minister, but to us.
“What we have simply done is to tell the local authorities to do their job because, since 2016, they were sitting on several court orders to evict illegal settlers and we have asked why they have not been acting on them.
“We cannot have councillors determine where to regularise and where not to because in many instances they are also implicated, so there is conflict of interest. We are, therefore, going to do the exercise on the government’s terms because it is the one that is going to foot the expenses when it comes to compensation,” Muguti said.
He said a provincial taskforce has since been set up to take the local authority to task over the matter.
“Those who are saying we have taken over the running of the municipality are people with their own agenda. I am almost always in touch with Chitungwiza mayor Lovemore Maiko and his Harare counterpart Jacob Mafume to give updates on what is happening,” he said.
But a municipal insider told the Daily News yesterday that the acting town clerk, Evangelista Machona, and the councillors had been reduced to lame duck officials in the demolition of the structures.
“The town clerk and her officials now take instructions from Muguti and they are summoned there every Monday. That explains why the councillors were not aware of the planned demolitions. When a special council meeting was held on Friday last week, they sought to find out who had given the directive to demolish the houses without giving alternative accommodation to victims as demanded by the law, but nobody owned up,” the source said.
The council is set to demolish houses and other buildings in 35 illegal settlements across the town, in a move that could leave hundreds of families homeless.
Structures to be demolished included houses built on wetlands, sewer lines, under electricity power lines and on road and railway servitudes.
Most home-seekers bought land from barons and were assured that everything was above board.
Houses to be demolished in St Mary’s are those built on Macheke Square, a school site, behind St Mary’s Police Station, behind Zengeza Main Primary School, near pump station number 3, St Mary’s Council Creche, St Mary’s Primary School site, wetland adjacent to and behind St Mary’s cemetery, the site from Seke Road Bridge along Manyame River, St Mary’s administration offices entrance and Chaminuka Main Road.
In Zengeza, the local authority is demolishing houses built in Zengeza 5 along Chitungwiza Road, Zengeza 5 wetland on Rockview Extension, Zengeza 4 Pagomba wetland along the stream and a wetland under high voltage Zesa power lines opposite Girl Child Network, Zengeza 3 Cone Textile opposite Delta and Zengeza 4 wetland, known as PaChief.
In Seke, the municipality would be demolishing structures on Unit J wetlands, Unit K Key College and at Chirunga Shopping Centre, Along Mharapara Road, Unit A wetland from Chibuku to Tafa Shops and adjacent to Chibuku Stadium, Unit G Road buffer along Harare-Dema Road Servitude, Unit O along Duri River, Unit N extension, Unit P wetland, wetland between Unit N and F, areas between Garikai Hlalani Kuhle, Unit L extension, wetland adjacent Unit L cemetery and Zanoremba.
Those who have invaded Nyatsime cemetery and built houses would not be spared the demolitions.