Residents bitter over houses demolitions

Residents bitter over houses demolitions

Chitungwiza residents are up-in-arms with the town council following the demolition of their homes last week in parts St Mary’s and Manyami Park, Zim Morning Post can report.

The affected residents told this publication that they had paid thousands in United States dollars towards both purchase of the land from some land barons as well as construction of the now demolished houses.

Zim Morning Post spoke to Chitungwiza Town Council (CTC) spokesperson, Lovemore Meya, who said the structures razed down were not allocated by municipal authorities as the area was earmarked for development projects.

“We, as Council, did not allocate the land to the residents. Some land barons were responsible for dishing-out the residential stands in the area which is zoned for a railway line,” he said.

Meya said for one to construct a house at any place within Chitungwiza, an offer letter alone would not suffice.

“One should be furnished with an approved plan, lease and offer letter to start doing any form of construction. There is also need for inspection at each stage, with a stage form being signed. In the absence of one of these, you cannot construct anything,” Meya said.

The CTC spokesperson added that the affected people were cautioned before constructing their houses, yet they never took heed.

“In addition, prohibition and enforcement orders had been issued, but were never taken seriously,” Meya said.

One of the affected residents, said he was shocked to find their homes demolished despite being in the municipality system.

Some houses, however, which were already occupied were allegedly saved from the tragedy, something which has caused further unrest in the area.

Several sites were affected, including the area behind St Mary’s Police Station, St Mary’s creche and St Mary’s Polyclinic.

Chitungwiza Mayor, Lovemore Maiko earlier told Zim Morning Post that corruption and legacy issues have resulted in the mushrooming of settlements in undesignated areas and wetlands forcing council to act so as to stop illegal construction of structures.

The demolitions came after Chitungwiza Municipality was granted an order by the courts.

Chitungwiza municipality notified residents of St Mary’s, Seke and Zengeza of the impending demolitions of structures constructed without council approvals.

The municipality went on to publish the demolition order in the local media and initiated demolitions near Chitungwiza Police Station.

A public outcry by Chitungwiza residents has, however, forced the council to halt the demolitions.

“We are not happy to see demolitions taking place but at the same time we have to operate within council rules, laws and regulations,” Maiko said.

“The biggest question is why are people being allocated land in the wetlands. Why are structures being constructed in areas meant for social activities like soccer.”

“Imagine in Manyame a football pitch was invaded and all you see now are houses. The area was meant for recreational activities and a soccer pitch was developed but land barons parceled this land out and now there are houses,” he said.

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