By Byron Mutingwende
Policy makers have failed to adhere to the supreme law of land by demolishing houses in Chitungwiza, Epworth and Seke, human rights defenders have said.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights programme manager Dzimbabwe Chimbga said in demolishing houses, authorities were acting illegally since they failed to recognize the fact that urban and town planning regulations must not override the Constitution.
“Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. The move by these local authorities with the backing of the ministry of local government violates residents’ constitutional right to shelter; a situation that clearly displays the failure by policy makers to adhere to the rule of law,” Chimbga said.
In a joint statement delivered at a press conference in Harare on Monday, the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum in partnership with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum said the move to demolish houses without offering affected residents alternative shelter was a criminal activity.
The grouping condemned Chitungwiza Town Council’s complicity in allowing land barons to illegally parcel out land and leave residents to build more than 200 houses and then demolish them later.
A petition has been sent to the President’s Office to halt the demolitions, a police report made in order to effect arrest of the culprits and the High Court has been approached as alternatives to contain the ongoing malpractices.
As a final measure should all the strategies fail, the human rights defenders are prepared to mobilize communities to defend their homes and rights.