Chombo leaves Chitungwiza grieving

WHEN Water, Environment and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere jokingly told Chitungwiza residents last week that since his appointment last year, the weather patterns had changed, many thought he had come with a solution to end their discomfort caused by the current cold spell.

BY MOSES MATENGA

But once Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo stood up, his message unnerved the residents. Most of them will have to endure the cold in the open in three weeks’ time. Chombo told them government was going ahead to demolish more than 4 000 “illegally” built houses.

Chombo led a ministerial delegation to Chitungwiza last week and left sorrow and dismay in his wake. In less than 21 days residents of this populous town will witness armed police, bulldozers, sledgehammers and flamethrowers at work — a cruel reminder of the 2005 operation Murambatsvina that left more than 700 000 people homeless.

“We want an orderly city,” Chombo declared. “We need sanity and a well-planned city. People should stop fraudulent land sales by self-styled barons who are eager to sell land not belonging to them.”

“What human rights are there to talk about when people settle where they are exposed to dangers.”

Kasukuwere, Chombo and his deputy Joel Biggie Matiza passed through muddy roads, cemeteries and wetlands where hundreds of houses have been built.

The government is arguing that the affected residents were being endangered as they have built houses under electricity pylons and on top of sewer pipes where they risk getting water borne diseases.

This was also a reaction to massive corruption in Chitungwiza where land barons would sell land to home-seekers and fraudulently take over wetlands and land designated for other projects without council approval.

But women rights activist Faith Ndlovu said whatever war government was fighting, it must be sincere and not harm the vulnerable that deserve its protection.

She said with winter approaching, women and children would be the worst affected.

“The law must not be applied in such a way as to drive those who are already deprived into deeper deprivation or those who are desperate into deeper desperation,” Ndlovu said.

‘Demolitions impair rule of law’

Lawyers say the move by government was in contravention of the country’s constitution and that they would continue to fight until the law was adhered to.

“The proposed evictions and demolition of housing structures will not only violate the Constitution but impair the rule of law,” said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda in a statement.

He said in taking any action the government must honour its constitutional obligations before rolling out the planned forced evictions of residents.

“The government must assure citizens that it will follow the dictates of the law in executing the planned evictions and demolition of property given the fact that Zimbabwe has entered a new constitutional dispensation, which provides for the protection of the basic human rights of the people,” he said.

ZLHR said the planned evictions violated several of the key protective provisions such as the right to shelter and freedom from arbitrary eviction which is enshrined in Section 74 of the new Constitution among other rights.

“As ZLHR we are demanding that the government and Chombo’s ministry must furnish us with the total number of households that will be affected and in particular how many children will be left without shelter,” it said.

The lawyers said they were contemplating legal action to protect citizens’ rights which were on the verge of being violated.

Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHIRRA) chairman, Arthur Taderera quizzed Chombo on the rationale of the evictions.

“Where will people stay? You can’t throw people like animals or trees? Why didn’t you do this 10 years ago and we could not be having these problems. A lot of money was poured in building the houses,” Taderera said.

Residents said they bought the stands from suspended Zanu PF councillor Fraderick Mabamba and former MDC-T councillor Boniface Manyonganise for between US$4 500 and US$6 000. Manyonganise could not be reached for comment.

The delegation was shown agreement of sales entered into between the land barons and residents.

Mabamba said there was no need to demolish the houses and his schools as they were built on his own personal land. But he was quick to add that if the minister wanted to, he would not object.
Mabamba denied abusing the name of Zanu PF to corruptly amass vast tracts of land.

While Chombo claims that government, under its economic blue-print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), plans to build more than 125 000 units in five years, it remains to be seen where the thousands to be affected will be housed.

As it stands, government has no contingency plans to move people or create new housing for them.

13 Responses to Chombo leaves Chitungwiza grieving

  1. bobo April 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Vana chombo visited chitungwiza before elections and see theze houses bt just bcoz they were campaigning they promised kutiuurayira mombe vana president na mai mugabe bt now ma winner makuona kuti town haina order itai we are watching ko ivo vana mabamba vakatitengesera ma stands vacho michavadii uye yu are just creating a prblm yamusingazokwanisi kugadzirisa cholera nezvimwe zvakunetsa dzimba dzotokwira uku nyika haina mari yacho

  2. samaita April 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    evryone in zimbabwe wherever u r must stand up say no 2 ths madness.chombo said he will engage th police does he know tht some of these houses belong 2 th police n soldiers.

  3. Lilian April 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    It beats logic that Chombo wants to demolish 4000 house units in Chitungwiza when he is not saying anything about Makandiwa’s church that is being built in the middle of a wetland in Chitungwiza and is quiet about the Chinese shopping mall near the National Stadium. Chombo has overstayed and you bet he got large swaths of money from Makandiwa and the Chinese.Corruption ndiyo ya a kumuchenesa musoro murume wa Marian! The President says nothing about this corrupt man! Is it because he hails from Zvimba! And Matiza the rapist wokumitisa mwana wa Matindike also has joined the bandwagon! Nyarai mhani vanhu ve ZANU.PF.

  4. dungas April 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    I fail to understand the situation in Chitungwiza. People bought land from some persons and built standard houses. This took a number of years. This is a council designated area. Can the land sellers shed light – are they the rightful owners of that land? If not can they be arrested immoderately please. If yes – were all procedures followed in processing in making it legal for people to buy and built homes. If this was not done, was it an omission or deliberate? All those wrong doers must be brought before the law. Lastly, all those who were sold land fraudulently should immediately sue for compensation to who ever is responsible. Please reporters investigate and publish the information necessary for the common person to understand the issue at hand. Your reporting leaves people gasping for more information!

  5. Rovai Pasi April 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Poeple should observe the law,period!lf you are conned what business does the state have with that…!People should wise up and stop this attitude of buying property as if they are buying tomatoes at a marketplace.So Minister continue with the exercise….we trully need an orderly town.

    Ndatenda Hangu

    A Bona-fide Chitown Resident

    • nes April 14, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Hauna kukwana iwe these pipol have sale agreements signed unotopenga chete takatega kunge tikutenga matomatoes papi tomato ukatenga unopiwa agreement of sale here iwe enda ku grade 1

    • Jonathan April 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Wakambozviona kupi kuti imba inovakwa pagedhi recemetery?

  6. WOUNDED LION April 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Chombo anorwadza kudarika mabayo!

  7. tiktak April 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    as a responsible govt concerned about the welfare of its citizens they should first put measures to counter the adverse aftereffects of this proposed eviction otherwise they are preparing a reciept for a civil war;the haves against the havenots.

  8. vaudze April 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Ko akazorarama zvochose ndiani??Hitler chaiye aiityisa mauto edzimwe nyika akazviuraya,kuzoti kaChombo zvako kanorwisa wasingadzosere tichaubatai pamberi apo,hant waMugabe ndivo vamo mu90 avo,
    .

  9. nes April 14, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Hauna kukwana iwe these pipol have sale agreements signed unotopenga chete takatega kunge tikutenga matomatoes papi tomato ukatenga unopiwa agreement of sale here iwe enda ku grade 1

  10. Jey Uso April 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    This is sad …i however enjoyed the comic reporting ” residents of this populous town will witness armed police, bulldozers, sledgehammers and flamethrowers at work” , especially the sledgehammers and flamethrowers bit kikikkk.

  11. Billy Pule April 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Uyo Chombo haasiriye wekuba land yekanzuru here uyo? VaMugabe vakamugadza pachinzvimbo futi? Chokwadi Gushungo vachembera manje!

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