By Alois Vinga
A Harare residents’ representative group has scoffed at recent threats by Provincial Affairs Minister, Oliver Chidawu to demolish illegal settlements created in parts of the city.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Friday, Harare Residents Alliance (HRA) cluster chairperson representing Caledonia Suburban, Knowledge Chidavanyika said plans to raze down illegal structures were part of the ruling Zanu PF’s attempts get rid of remnants of the Zanu PF’s G40 faction support base.
G40 is a Zanu PF faction once controlled by ousted State President and former party leader Robert Mugabe.
Said Chidavanyika, “We feel provoked by threats issued by Minister Chidawu that there are plans to demolish houses in new settlements within Harare and to us, we understand that the move is aimed at cleansing suspected G40 supporters who are perceived to have been resettled during former President Robert Mugabe’s tenure.”
Chidavanyika claimed Chidawu was planning to descend on targeted residents as part of a revenge mission against elements linked to Mugabe, who once humiliated him some time back.
“These are remarks coming from a Minister who was once demoted soon after being declared Mayor of Harare, hence the plans are more political than environmental as purported but we are ready to resist and fight back to defend our land,” he said.
The residents’ group representative argued that the land was parcelled out by the Zanu PF government and residents paid what was due to the cooperatives.
He called on authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with the matter.
“Who was behind these cooperatives? Why haven’t we seen meaningful arrests of the officials who ran the cooperatives if they are not politically connected to the current government officials,” Chidavanyika said.
Early this week, Chidawu hinted that over 10 000 homes in Budiriro, Crowborough, Kambuzuma, Harare City Council farms and other areas were going to be demolished in a move aimed at preventing a potential humanitarian crisis.
The capital city’s top official’s sentiments brought back memories of government’s 2005 slum-clearance operation called Operation Murambatsvina (cleanse the filth) which displaced almost a million Zimbabweans, according to human rights groups, in a military-style operation that ran for two months.
Zanu PF led urban land invasions with most of its top brass at that time ripping off desperate home seekers by parcelling out thousands of stands under the guise of enjoying the fruits of the liberation struggle.