Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has stopped the demolition of thousands of houses in Zimbabwe’s second populous town of Chitungwiza, Jossey News Network (JNN) has learned.
The local authority had initiated the demolition of houses without a court order a move the ZLHR had classified as a human rights violation and unconstitutional.
“May we kindly remind you that Section 7 of the Constitution provides that no person may be evicted or removed or have their home demolished without an order made of court. After considering that all the relevant circumstances your purported order is not in terms of the Constitution and is in violation of the Constitution,” ZLHR said in a letter to Chitungwiza Town Mayor Lovemore Maiko.
The local authority had ordered the demolition of more than 5000 houses that were built without the council’s approval.
Some of the houses were built on wetlands, under electricity pylons as well as on places designated for recreational activities. The Chitungwiza Town Council has blamed land barons for occupying council land and distributing it illegally. Some of the land barons are well known political actors with strong ties in Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU PF.
However, the demolition of the houses was considered a human rights violation by many civil societies in the country including the ZLHR.
Former minister Fortune Chasi said the move was uncalled for and was coming at the wrong time.
“What is the effect and cost of this to the economy? Brand new materials all put to waste! To me, this is not right at all! And it shows vindictiveness which is very primitive! The choice of the time for demolitions is devilish in my view. Just when the rains are upon us! Where do these people go in this rainy season?,” Chasi told JNN.