Residents’ body Chitrest challenges Town Planning Act

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CHITUNGWIZA Residents Trust (Chitrest) wants certain sections of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act repelled as they give local authorities power to demolish homes without a court order.
Chitrest has launched a High Court application citing Local Government minister July Moyo, Attorney General Prince Machaya, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Chitungwiza Municipality (Chitungwiza) as
respondents in the matter which is yet to be heard.

The residents are being represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Chitrest wants sections 32 and 37 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act declared
unconstitutional and for a demolition order issued by Chitungwiza on October 8 nullified.

This comes as Chitungwiza published an order for the demolition of houses situated in St Mary’s Zengeza, Seke and
Nyatsime on the basis that they had been constructed without council’s approval.

Chitungwiza was acting in terms of sections 32 and 37 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act prompting Chitrest to approach the High Court and an order for suspension was

“I contend that section 32 (2) (c) and (d) give local authorities such as the fourth respondent (Chitungwiza) the right to arbitrarily evict and demolish residents’ houses without a court order thereby infringing on the constitutional guarantee against arbitrary eviction conferred in terms of section 74 of the Constitution.

“All that is required is for the local authority to give an enforcement order and if there is no compliance proceed to demolish the houses or evict the residents thus eroding the protection afforded by the Constitution,” Chitrest
director Alice Kuvheya said in the application.

Kuvheya argued that the disputed provisions shut the door for residents to have courts judiciously assess the circumstances of each intended demolition or eviction.

“The impugned provisions simply give the local authorities leeway to demolish houses or evict people from their homes upon publication or service of an enforcement order.

“This is a matter of public importance that goes to the core of a fundamental human right provided for in the Constitution. That being the case no order of costs must be made,” she added.

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