Govt ordered house demolitions: Manyenyeni

THE Harare City Council demolished houses at Arlington Estate adjacent to the Harare International Airport after a directive from government which marshalled council’s equipment and some of its workers into destroying the houses, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has revealed.

Hazel Ndebele

The houses were destroyed despite the government approving the allocation of land to Nyikavanhu Housing Co-operative. This was acknowledged by former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo in a letter dated November 28, 2012, addressed to the Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda.

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Responding to questions sent to him by the Zimbabwe Independent through email this week, Manyenyeni said council was not involved in the sale and allocation of the stands at Arlington Estate.

“To the best of my knowledge, that is not council land, the process leaders (land allocators) are not exactly known to council,” he said.

“The demolition was announced by the President and then actioned by government who marshalled our equipment and some of our workers and the operation was under the direct and effective control of the Ministry of Local Government not city council.”

Mugabe ordered the destruction of the houses on November 25 last year while officially opening the Airport Road. He described the houses as an eyesore and said they gave a bad image of the country.

Commenting on service delivery, Manyenyeni said council was still affected financially by government’s directive to scrap off water bills in 2013 and was therefore struggling to offer effective services.

“Very few institutions can survive the loss of two years’ revenue. It has been a test of resilience and the negative impact on service delivery has been difficult to conceal,” he said.

“Residents who were compliant in paying their bills feel badly treated and some have sadly lost their commitment to rate payments, but those who think that the 2013 political gimmick will be repeated must be warned.”

Commenting on the water shortages, he said the trend was likely to continue into next year.

“The refurbishment project at Morton Jaffray, which should be fully completed by early next year, will increase our capacity from our current low of 400ml per day to 650ml a day to meet some of the demand.”