BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) evicted its former employees from company accommodation at flats in the Avenues area of Harare on Christmas day.
At least four families, including two which are headed by widows, were evicted from Hatley House flats along Josiah Tongogara Avenue. Children, the youngest who is seven months old, as well as young girls and boys were among those that were left out in the open.
Gender activist groups in Harare have since taken up the matter and moved swiftly to assist the affected women and children.
Thandolwenkosi Makubaza, the programmes development and fundraising manager of Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender, yesterday confirmed that the women and children were taken to Musasa Project for assistance since it was raining.
“Yesterday on December 25 I was visiting my aunt along Josiah Tongogara Avenue, across Hatley House flats owned by ZBC. I then saw about four families that had been thrown out in the open near the road with all their property and children and it was raining,” Makubaza said.
“Many of them were women and children, and one of the women had a seven-month-old baby. When I approached them, I saw three ladies, two of them widows, and one married woman who had a baby strapped on her back. They said they had just been thrown out of the flats because their tenancy had expired as they were no longer employees of the ZBC.”
She said the women told her that the process of trying to evict them began in 2015. They also claimed that ZBC still owed them a lot of money which was part of the reason why they continued to stay at the flats.
“They said ZBC decided to throw them out on Christmas day, dumping them onto the streets on a rainy day. As a gender activist and a women rights activist, I was affected by this kind of treatment especially on vulnerable women and children.
“The fact that these are widows and there were children, including a seven-month-old baby that were sleeping under plastic covers at a time when there is Covid-19 and dysentery unsettled me. It was difficult to turn my back on them,” Makubaza said.
She then initiated a process of getting temporary shelter for them at Musasa Project.
“I approached a number of organisations that we work with and Musasa Project fortunately took up the case and ran around to ensure the children and their mothers have shelter. A passer-by, Chris Jimu of Heylinks, also stopped to try and find out what was happening and he offered to assist,” she said.
“He packed their property into his truck and took it to his warehouse for safekeeping as the company is currently on holiday. He also volunteered to take the woman who has a seven-month-old baby and her husband to his house.”
Makubaza said the women would receive counselling at Musasa Project. However, the centre was unable to take in the boys and young men over 12 years as it is a shelter for women.
“We found a well-wisher who took in two boys. The Women in Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) is now looking at the legal issues pertaining to their case,” she said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Musasa programmes officer Sharon Matingwina were fruitless as she was not picking her phone.
ZBC spokesperson Rumbidzayi Moyo confirmed the evictions.
“This issue has been at the courts since 2015. However, all tenants were requested to vacate Hatley House after it was condemned by the City of Harare. There have been no existing tenancy agreements between ZBC and any tenant at Hatley House since then. The matter has been to the High Court,” Moyo said.