By Tererai Karimakwenda
01 October, 2010
Residents of a shanty town outside Harare known as Hatcliffe Extension have been threatened with eviction by government, despite the fact that it is the same authorities who settled the people there after destroying their original homes.
Amnesty International released a statement on Thursday calling on government officials to stop the pending evictions and instead make a plan to settle these displaced people somewhere before evicting them.
Back in June, the officials notified residents that they were to renew the leases for their plots by September 30 or face eviction. Their land would then be given others on a waiting list. But no-one seems to know about this list and residents have been denied access to officials since the June announcement.
The cost to renew a lease is $140, which the government is demanding as one lump sum. With many Zimbabweans not even earning that much per month, it is shocking that that the officials would threaten to evict Hatcliffe Extension residents, who are among the poorest in the country.
The shanty town was developed when the Mugabe regime bulldozed the homes and businesses of innocent Zimbabweans under what they called “Operation Murambatsvina”, literally meaning clean out the filth.
Nearly one million people were displaced countrywide as government officials claimed their homes were illegal. Many were moved out of the cities and dumped by the roadside in rural areas. The MDC argued that the operation was a ZANU PF plot to disenfranchise voters, giving Robert Mugabe an advantage in urban areas.
Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa, Michelle Kagari, said: "Instead of threatening vulnerable people with eviction, the government must provide protection from the cycle of insecurity and further violations by providing security of tenure and affordable payment plans for leases."
According to Amnesty, the excessive lease fees are not restricted to Hatcliffe Extension. Residents of other informal settlements around the country are also under threat of eviction.