Govt’s New Murambatsvina Targets Backyard Homes

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By Leopold Munhende

HARARE Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti has announced the return of ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ in the metropolitan province despite Monday’s widely condemned demolishing of vending stalls in the capital.

Muguti went on to applaud the same state security agents who were tearing down tuckshops and stalls especially around the Mbudzi area in Harare and different areas in Chitungwiza.

He on Monday gave a directive to the Harare City Council, Chitungwiza Town Council, Ruwa Local Board and Epworth Local Board to enforce a provincial joint operation from Monday that will rid the area of illegal structures.

He said authorities will soon be getting into residential areas to do away with backyard cottages, illegally constructed precast walls and tuckshops in scenes akin to the controversial Murambatsvina of 2005 that saw government collaborate with local authorities to raze down homes and under the pretext of a widely condemned national clean-up campaign.

“I would like to applaud our security services and all the stakeholders who have helped the government in carrying out our successful operation in Harare Metropolitan Province today,” said Muguti.

“This operation is aimed at clamping down on illegal activities that has been carried out in Harare Metropolitan Province.

“Residents must take note that the Second Republic is not stopping at nothing. We are now getting into the next phase of our operation.

“This phase will target all those who constructed illegal durawall, backyard cottages and tuckshops in their yards.

“This services as a notice to the residents that our team will be visiting all locations to check if they are complying with laws of the land.”

Muguti gave residents 72 hours to remove all illegal structures before his team moves in.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) expressed its concerns, arguing although sanity should be restored, basic rights had to be respected.

“CHRA appreciates the intention to bring order and sanity in the City of Harare but condemns the process and strategies being employed by the government,” read a CHRA statement released Tuesday.

“Constitutional principles must be held in both practice and decision-making.”

Some 700 000 people were affected by late President Robert Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina with the United Nations (UN) indicating some 2.4 million people could have been affected across the country.

Critics argued he had been targeting urbanites who usually vote MDC at elections hence disenfranchising them meant less competition against then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.