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No full council resolution on demolitions
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
November 12, 2013

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has learnt that, there was never a full council resolution to demolish houses deemed to be illegal. However, there is a standing full council resolution on the illegality of structures built incognito, without any council approval. Further to that, today’s Herald carried an article which quotes the town-clerk saying that demolitions have been parked to allow engagement. “Those who have built structures in areas that are suitable for such structures, but without council permission will get an opportunity to regularise their construction, while those who have put up buildings in inappropriate places without council permission are being asked to remove them within the set period,” said Dr Mahachi. The Combined Harare Residents Association released a press statement condemning the demolitions as an inhuman act of governance which bluntly shows the lack of accountability from government officials.

CHRA information team caught up with the deputy Mayor, Councillor Muzuva who professed ignorance as to whether there has been a full council resolution on demolishing illegal structures. “As a full council, we have never resolved to demolish people’s houses. If we were going to make that resolution, we would first make provisions for alternative accommodation or raising tents for people to stay. We are a council elected by the people and we have them at heart and we can’t be seen razing down people’s homes considering now that we are in the rainy season. However, I can attest to the full council resolution on illegal structures of which we have not resolved that they should be broken down. We understand the socio-economic situation and the current liquidity crisis we are in hence we are taking one step at a time” said the deputy Mayor who is from the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC-T).

CHRA has been calling for stakeholder engagement before demolishing people’s homes and if the town clerks remarks in the media are anything to go by, we will welcome the development and endeavour to mobilize residents to regularize their properties in line with the municipal by-laws. Whilst we appreciate the need for residents to regularize their structures, we have noted that the situation obtaining is symptomatic of a failed and polarized housing policy. There is need for an urgent review of national housing policy and if possible, talks of expanding the City should resurface in order to cater for the increasing housing demand. Harare City Council has more than one million people on its housing waiting list and this has been a push factor behind the construction of illegal structures.

In addition, we also would want to urge the ministry of local government public works and national housing to give space for decision making at lower levels of government, specifically local authorities. There is clear confusion when decisions like these are made without consulting people, a situation which could lead to unrest.

CHRA will work with Harare City Council in ensuring that residents get enough space for engagement and protecting their hard earned properties. We believe that the spirit of creating a culture of sustained dialogue feeds directly into the concept of good local governance which is characterised by the inclusion of citizens in decision making at all levels. Harare City Council is currently dominated by Councillors mainly from the main opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

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