Residents leaders detained for discussing home demolitions

simabarashe moyo

A demolished home under Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
29 January 2014

Police have arrested and detained leaders of Harare residents organisations for addressing a meeting to discuss the proposed demolition of 14,000 homes in Chitungwiza by the State.

Representatives from two residents’ associations were arrested in Chitungwiza’s Unit L Tuesday evening for addressing more than 800 residents who had gathered to discuss the state-sanctioned destruction of the homes.

Those arrested are Jacob Rukweza and Tinashe Kazuru of the Chitungwiza Residents Trust and Simbarashe Moyo of the Combined Harare Residents Association – who attended under the banner of the newly-formed Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum.

Also being held are George Makoni and Janet Kanavete from civil society groups the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe and ZimRights respectively.

The police accuse the five of holding an illegal meeting and inciting public unrest. They first detained them at Chitungwiza station before transferring them to Harare Central where they are still being held without charge.

But Marvellous Kumalo, a coordinator at Chitungwiza Residents Trust who organised the event, denies the allegations.

“This was a consultative meeting on the State-sanctioned demolitions, and at no point did residents mention or discuss using violence.

“Residents were clear during the discussions that our resistance to the destruction of our homes should be peaceful. The police allegations are untrue,” Kumalo said.

Kumalo said the arrests and detentions were part of police attempts to thwart residents from showing their discontent at State-sponsored victimisation.

He called on Chitungwiza residents not to give up fighting for their rights.

“As residents’ leaders we are not going to accept any arbitrary evictions and demolitions of our people’s homes and properties without any court order,” Kumalo added.

The demolitions were temporarily halted Friday after Chitungwiza residents formed a human wall to block a bulldozer which had already destroyed one property.

An official at civic group Youth Agenda Trust criticised the police “for arresting the ‘wrong’ people, following the detention of one of their board members, Simbarashe Moyo.

“It is surprising that the police have chosen to arrest the affected people instead of corrupt politicians.

“They should release these people and instead jail those who have brought untold suffering to the people of Chitungwiza,” Lawrence Mashungu, a manager at the youth group said Wednesday.

Thousands of families face homelessness after the State and Chitungwiza council said the homes were built on land allocated illegally, and should be destroyed.

The residents say they are being unfairly punished while the land barons, who include top government and council officials, are not facing censure.

Municipal officials have claimed that the stands were allocated without approval, but some residents dispute this and say they have been paying rates to the council.

Since the recently-elected ZANU PF government gave indications that it will be destroying homes last year, rights campaigners have expressed concern that those affected will be left destitute as the authorities are not offering alternative shelter.

The pending demolitions are reminiscent of the ZANU PF government’s 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, which left 700,000 Harare families homeless.

ZANU PF claimed it was a clean-up exercise but Zimbabweans said it was the ruling party’s way of punishing poor city dwellers for voting for the opposition.

The operation outraged the international community, with United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka calling it “indiscriminate, unjustified” and indifferent to human suffering”.



One Responseto “Residents leaders detained for discussing home demolitions”

  1. THE BLACK ARISTOCRAT says:

    “indiscriminate, unjustified” and indifferent to human suffering”.

    Mugabe and Zanu PF laugh at comments like this, wearing them as a badge of honour- they believe Zimbabwe, its natural resource wealth and its citizens are theirs to do with as they please – nothing will change that mindset – self entitlement is ingrained into their DNA.

    What is particularly shocking is that although the small white population has been on the end of some truly shocking brutality by the Mafia State’s appalling CIO, Police, Private Army and Youth Brigade, this violence pales into insignificance compared that which has been meted out to the black population, particularly those who dare to disagree with them politically, or stand up to them by demanding they be treated with dignity and respect.

    Over the last 34 years, Mugabe and Zanu PF has never shown any interest whatsoever in the welfare of the Zimbabwean people, and will do whatever it takes to retain power, no matter how severe the suffering of the population now mostly reduced to living in grinding poverty as a result of their disastrous economic policies, designed solely for their own material gain.

    The first rule when dealing with these psychopaths is: never underestimate their seemingly limitless capacity for naked greed and the shameless use of violence in its pursuit, since they truly believe they, and they alone ‘own’ the country.

    Trust them at your peril !

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