Civil Society Organisations (CSO), most of them struggling for relevance in the wake of Zanu PF’s electoral victory in the July 31 elections, have jumped on the band wagon of those calling for government not to destroy illegal structures that have mushroomed in urban centres across the country.
Many of these organisations have misleadingly sought to compare the proposed destruction with the 2005 clean-up notoriously known as Operation Murambatsvina. Not only is this comparison meant to elicit as much emotion as possible but it is also meant to make the CSOs involved seem like champions of the poor when all they want is to get their fingers into the jar of donor funding.
Illegal settlements should be put into different categories and each treated on its merits and demerits. There are those people who were misled by political parties in the heat of the electioneering period and allocated land in places that are not earmarked for residential development for various reasons including that the spaces were wetlands or set aside for recreational purposes.
Such structures should be destroyed and the people affected encouraged to seek redress with those individuals or parties that misled them.
There are also those who built structures next to other people’s legitimate homes again at the behest of electioneering politicians. Not only are these structures sub-standard for they were built without supervision, but they have also affected the value of the property of those who constructed their homes according to procedure.
There is absolutely no justification for such structures not to be destroyed forthwith. Homeowners have invested heavily in their properties and have hedged their lives against these homes. For them to watch as the value of the lifetime investments plummet immediately because some people have sought to build on land they don’t own, is to go against the laws of natural justice.
A third category, such as what happened in Norton, is when people invade land belonging to an individual or corporate and develop that land. With negotiation such developments could be regularised.
Opposition political parties and CSO should not seek political mileage by defending something that is so patently unlawful and which breaches citizens’ property rights.