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Media Watch on the Constitution - November 2013
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
December 13, 2013
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The new Constitution
of Zimbabwe declares the provision of shelter to all citizens and
freedom from arbitrary eviction as fundamental human rights. Section
28 of the Constitution compels “the State and all institutions
and agencies of government at every level” to “take
reasonable legislative and other measures, within the resources
available to them, to enable every person to have access to adequate
this right is also guaranteed under Chapter Four (Section 74) of
the Declaration of Rights, which stipulates: “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”.
This study is
significant because shelter is a fundamental human right that is
not only protected under the provisions of the new Constitution,
but also by the African
Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and other international instruments
to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
In its July
election campaign Zanu-PF promised to prioritize the provision of
adequate, decent and affordable housing and social amenities for
Zimbabwe’s hard-pressed citizens.
it’s election manifesto pledged the party would “embark
on a vigorous housing programme to address the housing backlog of
1,25 million” if it won the elections. It promised to build
“250,000 low income housing units” and to rehabilitate
“1,250 public houses and buildings” over the next five
years, as Zanu-PF was of the view that the provision of adequate
shelter and social amenities was a vital “part of human civilization”.
In line with
this, Zanu-PF pledged to “reduce the urban housing backlog”
by, among other interventions, “urgently regularizing the
tenure of urban dwellers that were allocated housing and commercial
stands on peri-urban farms under the land reform programme”.
This study is
important because Zimbabwe has been experiencing acute shortages
of accommodation and social amenities, especially in its burgeoning
its July election victory, the Zanu-PF government has embarked upon
urban “clean-up” exercises reminiscent of its 2005 post-election
Murambatsvina”, which destroyed more than 700,000 urban
households, instead of addressing the critical housing shortage.
In recent weeks, for example, the government began demolishing
“illegal” dwellings in the capital’s dormitory
towns of Ruwa and Chitungwiza, but aborted these operations following
a public outcry. The media, as the Fourth Estate, have a responsibility
to ensure that the government fulfils its constitutional obligations.
So it has come as no surprise that the new government’s threats
to clear these and other urban areas of “illegal structures”
has attracted significant media attention.
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