Civil society joint statement on arbitrary and unconstitutional house demolitions in Budiriro 4 by the city of Harare.
On September 30 a group of over 100 council officials descended on Budiriro and proceeded to demolish over 13 houses.
This, as you are aware, was done without a court order and violates section 74 of the Zimbabwe constitution which states that; “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”.
Our investigations and subsequent engagements reveal that these actions were devoid of a full council resolution. Additionally, the evictions did not meet the international standards of conducting evictions in that no adequate notice was given to the victims, genuine consultations were not conducted with the victims, alternative accommodation was not provided to the victims who are still living in the open and the city council has not indicated that it will compensate the victims.
As a responsive body of residents associations in the Harare metropolitan province, the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (Hamref) immediately convened a stakeholders meeting attended by CSOs which led to subsequent engagements with the leadership at Town House.
On October 2 at 10am, stakeholders met with Harare mayor councillor Bernard Manyenyeni where a joint statement with three demands was read to him.
- The demands made were as follows;That City council institutes an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to the demolition of Budiriro houses without following due procedure and in contempt of a standing court order;
- Investigate and cause the arrest of security details who beat and injured two residents of Budiriro who were lawfully trying to enforce their rights and;
- That the City of Harare immediately find and organise alternative housing and shelter for the affected households. Families with children and the elderly are currently living in the open with the rainy season around the corner.Manyenyeni promised to thoroughly investigate the Budiriro 4 demolitions. He also promised to meet CSOs in the afternoon of the same day at his chambers where he released an official statement.The mayor’s statement responded to the stakeholders demands as follows;
- Comprehensive investigation of the demolitions;
- The mayor noted that the, “matter is being handled by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and our future actions or investigation will be determined by police outcomes”;
- Injury caused by municipal police;
- He noted that, “Again I would ask that the victims to file a report with the ZRP — this they should have done already. In the meantime, I will ask that the Acting Town Clerk does an internal investigation around our truck a Hino Reg. No AAE 8352 believed to have been involved in the alleged violence by the municipal police”;
- Housing Provision for Affected Families and;
- He stated that, “We are not in a position to provide any temporary accommodation or otherwise. We urge affected families to look for alternative shelter in particular for the vulnerable eg women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities”.Land Barons
He further stated that, “I urge all the affected to bring to the attention of the investigating authorities in the ZRP all the land barons or scam managers who may have presented themselves as planning authorities resulting in this mess”.
Authority for demolitions
On authorisations for demolitions Manyenyeni noted that, “Going forward such exercises must now carry an authorisation order so that the performance can be attributed to a source of action and centre of authority”.
We would like to acknowledge the role the mayor played in facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and the City of Harare over this issue. We however note the following gaps;
The response by the Mayor has failed to address the following:
- Identify the root cause of the problem leading to unlawful demolitions;
- How to deal with mushrooming land barons in Harare;
- How to urgently assist affected victims who are currently leaving in the open as the rainy season approaches, exposing children, the elderly, those living with disabilities and the terminally ill to various diseases and;
- How to use his authority to cause arrest of city council officers involved in the demolitions and the assault of two residents in Budiriro 4.
We acknowledge the role of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who last week won a temporary court relief stopping further house demolitions.
In view of the above, the Anti-Demolitions Coalition calls upon Manyenyeni, who is also chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan provincial council to do the following:
- Consider stepping down from the Town House if he cannot use his office and constitutional duties to defend the rights of citizens. Residents are fast losing confidence in his ability to discharge his duties.
We also call upon the City of Harare, humanitarian agents and well -wishers to urgently assist the victims by donating tents, food, sanitary wear and any other essentials to the affected residents.