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Demolitions: Anger over stranded families

Authorities have been accused of abandoning Harare families whose houses were demolished in Budiriro last week.

BY ANDREW KUNAMBURA/MOSES MATENGA

At least 200 houses were demolished in the high-density suburb, leaving scores of families stranded without food and shelter.

The government and the council promised to provide temporary shelter for the affected residents, who include women and children, the elderly and the sick, but as of last night, no such relief had been provided.

The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) described the demolitions as a clear case of human rights violations and warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Budiriro.
HRT said the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission should act urgently on the matter.

“A humanitarian crisis is upon us and requires a purely humane response,” HRT said.

HRT said rights of citizens would continue to be violated while the corrupt got away without any punishment.

“The HRT, therefore, urges the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and responsible authorities to fully investigate how this situation obtained,” the Trust said.

“The demolition of houses belonging to residents in Budiriro will have severe social, economic and psychological impact on the victims.

“The majority of the victims come from very poor socio-economic backgrounds and their social capital is very low,” the residents’ advocacy body said.

“Following a human rights-based approach, the state is obligated to protect, promote and safeguard the human rights of all its citizens, including those living with disabilities, the sick, children and senior citizens.

“However, these demolitions demonstrate that the state has abandoned its constitutional obligations and is failing to offer security to its vulnerable citizens.”

The demolitions have provided Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance with a new battleground as they continue to blame each for the chaos.

Acting Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary Tendai Chirau accused the MDC Alliance of shedding crocodile tears and being insincere in accusing the Zanu PF government of being complicit in the demolition of the houses.

“The demolitions that happened in Budiriro must be exposed for the cheap attempts at politicking that they are,” Chirau said.

“Following the demolitions, we have seen a splurge of messages from members of the opposition saying that the demolitions are a Zanu PF move.

“Confronted with evidence that the demolitions were authored by a city council resolution, the narrative has shifted to state that the land barons who gave out the land are members of Zanu PF as if such a claim sanitises victimising house owners during the current rainy season,” Chirau said in a petition copied to Local Government minister July Moyo and his National Housing counterpart Daniel Garwe.

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume, who had promised to mobilise relief assistance in the form of food and tents, could not be contacted yesterday.

MDC Alliance provincial chairperson for Harare Wellington Chikombo said the situation in Budiriro remained dire and accused Zanu PF of creating the crisis.

“What is happening in Budiriro is a case of a snake eating its own. It is a dire situation in Budiriro, but what we have done is to ask the mayor to mobilise resources that include tents and demonstrate fatherhood as a city father,” Chikombo said.

“The people are in a desperate situation caused by the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, against the poor.”

Harare provincial development coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti on Friday promised that tents and food would be provided as a temporary measure to the affected residents.

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