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Mutare To Evict Devonshire “Squatters”

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By Kenneth Matimaire


THE clock is ticking on Devonshire Extension occupants as the local authority here is planning to evict them on the pretext of a potential health crisis, NewZimbabwe.com can report.

The local authority is riding on the wave of the new dispensation that has given the green light to the demolition of illegal settlements in Harare, to finally evict the illegal occupants branded as “squatters”.

“Those people are squatters and they do have their own land. We have engaged their partner (Dialogue on Shelter) on the way forward. We want to remove them on health grounds,” said Mutare Mayor Blessing Tandi.

Tandi’s remarks comes at time the illegally occupied area has become a ticking health time bomb as there are no sewer and water reticulation system.

He lamented that the matter has taken long to be finalised as it is politically motivated.

“The case is politically motivated but I hope the new dispensation can assist us since they are taking bold action in Harare,” said Tandi.

Council has over the past decade failed to evict the 1,500 families that illegally occupied an open space between Sakubva and Chikanga high density suburb.

The long going housing crisis was triggered by the illegal occupation of Dangamvura’s Homeless People’s Federation (HPF) Project Phase 2 and 3 – which belonged to residents now squatting in Devonshire.

According to documents in possession of NewZimbabwe.com, HPF was established in 1998 and later assisted by a non-governmental organisation called Dialogue on Shelter to secure 1 200 stands at a cost of US$5 million.

The stands situated on a plot measuring 25 hectares were located in the south western part of Dangamvura high density suburb.

In 2003, the plot was subdivided into three phases with Phase 1 being occupied by 162 residents above board.

All hell broke loose in 2010 when the stands were illegally occupied – before they were fully serviced – by war veterans, soldiers, and other civil servants following double allocation from rogue council officials.

In 2012, council obtained a High Court order but failed to evict the civil servants as they turned violent.

The evictions were further dampened by financial obligations as the Sheriff’s department charged US$300,000 then, to address the unlawful occupation of Dangamvura HPF to make way for the bona fide residents.

Frustrated by the endless and fruitless efforts, the legitimate Dangamvura HPF owners subsequently occupied Devonshire Extension illegally. Several attempts to remove them from Devonshire have also failed.

However, Mutare spokesperson Spren Mutiwi said the city will revisit the High Court order to address the crisis.

“We have to engage the Office of the Sheriff so that the High Court order is executed. So its not the city that will be involved in the eviction process but the Sheriff.

“There are several processes and requirements that we need to meet. The major one, is raising the amount of money required by the Office of the Sheriff to execute the order,” said Mutiwi who was yet to give a revised figure of the required amount by time of going to print.

However, HPF chairperson Luke Mukungatu who also resides in Devonshire Extension said no formal communication has been made by the local authority.

“Council is supposed to make formal communication through the use of letters. We will then let our lawyers (Maunga Maanda & Associates) handle the case from there (after receipt of written communication),” said Mukungatu.

The community had tabled their case before the late minister of State, Ellen Gwaradzimba for redress and are yet to brief her successor Nokuthula Matsikenyeri.