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Families stranded after house demolitions

An elderly woman on Thursday sat next to a heap of her property on what used to be her house in Harare South.
Mavis Maizivei is one of the 3 000 families whose houses were demolished by Bak Storage after the private company secured a court order to evict them from its property.

By Everson Mushava

With her palm on the chin, her granddaughter lying on her lap, Maizivei helplessly looked at the bulldozers which were still razing down houses 24 hours after she was left homeless.

“We slept in the open yesterday [Wednesday],” Maizivei said, tears rolling down her dry and dusty cheeks as she gazed with disdain at a thick cloud of dust spiralling in the air as the earth movers continued to mercilessly knock down houses.

“We will do the same today [Thursday]. We don’t have money to rent a house. We also don’t have money even to hire a truck to carry our belongings.”

Maizivei said she hoped, like other families, to make the Masvingo highway roadside their home for the next couple of days, weeks, months or until rescue comes.

She is not the only one in that predicament; many other families were seated by their properties in the open, pondering their next move.

“Our MP, Shadreck Mashayamombe [Zanu PF] came to address us today.

“He said he has engaged government and land has been availed by the Local Government ministry to resettle us,” said another victim, Charles Charamba.

“We are grateful and hope this will succeed. We, however, think they should have secured alternative land for us before making us homeless. We are sleeping in the open with our kids. It is not healthy.”

This paper witnessed a group of Local Government and Urban Development Corporation (Udcorp) officials moving from stand to stand taking down names so that the victims could be allocated alternative land.

The residents occupied the land in 2014 through Tavapano Housing Co-operative despite warnings from Mashayamombe and others that the land was not state-owned.

Most of the residents were allegedly sold the housing stands by former Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe, who was involved in land grabbing in the area.

Mashayamombe on Friday said government had identified land for the victims after his intervention and the families would be accommodated at a nearby farm.

“Udcorp and staff from the Local Government are already on the ground, he said.

“I have assured the residents that they will be given land. We no longer want to involve these greedy cooperatives that have fleeced the people.

“I warned them a long time ago to stop occupying the private land but they refused, thinking that I wanted to take the land from them.

“But they are now homeless and we cannot ignore them. They need government support.”

Mashayamombe claimed the Local Government ministry and Udcorp would take the names and allocate the victims land at a nearby farm near Skyline Motel, where 3 000 stands would be availed.

Many residents had paid monies ranging from $1 000 to $5 000 for the land to Tavapano Co-operative. Others had not yet occupied their properties when their houses were demolished this week.

Many residents have been left homeless across Harare after falling prey to unscrupulous cooperatives.

In December last year thousands of people were left homeless after President Robert Mugabe ordered the demolition of houses built near the Harare International Airport.

The victims also belonged to housing cooperatives dominated by Zanu PF members.

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