By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
26 June 2014
About 14,000 houses in and around Chitungwiza are facing demolition after the Chitungwiza Municipality filed a High Court application seeking an order to demolish the structures which it says were built in illegal areas.
The Thursday application comes after a Chitungwiza magistrate stopped the municipality from undertaking the exercise, which is targeting structures that are at various stages of construction with some being complete modern houses.
The municipality wants the court to declare the allocation of those stands illegal and to authorise both the eviction of the occupants and the demolition of the houses.
According to the local authority it did not authorise the construction of houses on wetlands and under electricity pylons as well as on top of sewer lines, waterways and on open spaces.
The council argues that the stands don’t have proper stand numbers and the residents are dumping rubbish all over the place and drinking untreated water. The council invited the court to visit the places to see for its self the extent of the chaos in the area.
Residents said the situation is tense following the news of the court application. Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Trust director Admire Zaya told SW Radio Africa that land barons who sold and allocated those stands to desperate home seekers should be arrested and jailed first.
He added: ‘After the arrest of those people the council should then formalise the stands that are within the council perimeters. And they should also provide alternative accommodation to those whose structures cannot be formalised for health or structural reasons.’
The affected residents acquired land from individuals, some of whom had set up an office just next to the Chitungwiza Town Council Headquarters, between 2012 and 2013. An audit linked officials, including councillors and senior managers, to the scam.
So far no action has been taken against the land barons.
Illegal land occupations have been the order of the day in Zimbabwe since the government kick started its land grab exercise in 2000. The chaos that ensued has seen many opportunists grabbing land for various purposes. The first family has also been involved in its own land grabs and displacements to expand Grace Mugabe’s projects and to construct a house for her daughter Bona.