State Media|The Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) has urged the Harare City Council to respect residents’ rights and follow the legal route when demolishing houses that were built without its approval.
Council recently warned owners of such properties that their structures faced demolition if they failed to regularise them in terms of city building by-laws.
CHRA director Mrs Loreen Mupasiri-Sani told the media yesterday that they were concerned about the complete disregard for the law by the City of Harare when carrying out demolitions.
She said council should first find an alternative place for the people likely to be affected by the demolitions.
“CHRA is deeply concerned by the complete disregard of the law by the City of Harare when executing house demolitions around the capital. They are creating a major humanitarian disaster because residents are not only left homeless but are exposed to various diseases as well,” she said.
“Inasmuch as we do not condone illegal housing structures, we note with concern that the City of Harare has failed to respect citizens’ constitutional right of freedom from arbitrary eviction as enshrined under Section 74 of the country’s supreme law.
“Arbitrary evictions not only violate the right to shelter but the right to life, which is enshrined under Section 48 of the Constitution. With regards to the illegal structures, the City of Harare’s Planning Department is equally to blame as they have been complicit on issues of double allocation of stands and of housing stands on wetlands.
“Corruption and abuse of power thus remains the main issues fuelling the sprouting of illegal structures in Harare,” she said.
In an interview with state media over the proposed demolitions yesterday, Harare City Council corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said council’s preoccupation was not on demolitions but on giving security of tenure to residents through regularisation of their houses and to ensure that they pay for services which they have been enjoying for free.
He, however, said those who settled on wetlands, spaces reserved for the construction of schools, hospitals, clinics and business will be removed so that those pieces of land can be tirned over to their original purposes.