The demolition of over 100 houses in Budiriro suburb of Harare by city authorities last week is a poignant reminder that government and its agencies do not respect the constitution.
The constitution adopted two years ago is very clear about the protection of the right of citizens to shelter.
Section 74 of the country’s supreme law says, “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.”
The section categorically states that for demolitions to take place, the court must have made an order to that effect.
We are shocked that despite the existence of this important provision that seeks to guarantee people’s right to shelter, the Harare City council last week razed houses and further announced it was targeting 20 more settlements.
The authority never provided a court order to justify sending bulldozers to pull down houses in Budiriro, leaving hundreds of women and children at the mercy of the vagaries of the weather. There is no doubt the council, in broad daylight embarked on an illegal activity which is set to leave hundreds of people without shelter, a basic human right.
Many of the affected families were apparently duped by Zanu PF land barons who worked in cahoots with city council workers.
While no one in their sane mind can support the sprouting of illegal settlements in the city, we wonder why the city allowed these informal suburbs to grow in the first place. There is no doubt these evictions are politically motivated as some in high authority may have decided that time was up to do away with them.
The house demolitions go a long way to show that lawlessness still reigns supreme in Zimbabwe. Bodies such as the Harare municipality believe they can act with impunity.
The actions of the City of Harare with the tacit approval of central government clearly shows how our leadership is not restrained by law, which in a constitutional democracy like ours should regulate relations between the state and the citizens.
These demolitions must stop.