By Leopold Munhende
GOVERNMENT has distanced itself from recent demolitions on some 190 homes in Harare’s Budiriro high density suburb and has gone on to offer temporary shelter to victims who were left in the open.
This comes after both the Zanu PF led government and the MDC Alliance dominated Harare City Council (HCC) have been trading accusations on who was responsible for the acts.
At a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday, Local Government Minister July Moyo took time to distance government from the mess.
Moyo said council had taken illegal occupants of its land to court, adding government was not in support of the decision to destroy homes, moreso, in the middle of the rainy season.
According to Moyo, some 134 families were affected after Town Clerk Hosiah Chisango won the cases on council’s behalf February 2017.
“HCC took illegal occupants of these open spaces to court. To date, HCC has secured 23 court rulings in their favour and 22 are yet to be executed.
“The executed one is against Events Housing Cooperative which is a splinter from Tembwe Housing Cooperative,” said Moyo.
He added, “It is not government which took any of these to court…the affected families were warned and given time when they should have vacated but because some of these families listen to land barons, they did not heed the call.
“HCC then made an application to make sure messengers of court were directed to go and evict.
“Ofcourse as government, while we support court orders and respect the court orders given by the courts after the application by Harare City Council, it is the timing that concern us as it is the rainy season.
“We do not want as government to throw people in the rain but for those who have been evicted at the said place, we have taken the provincial civil protection unit (CPU) and national CPU as well as development partners to assist them in order to move out of places they have been evicted.
“Government has made alternative places where they will be housed, tents have been found.”
Moyo took time to emphasise HCC was responsible for the act, adding: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Harare City Council is the one which applied for those evictions, they got court orders, it is only the timing which we are saying they should not carry out the rest of the evictions until there is no rain.”
Victims were duped of US$2 500 per stand in the affected Budiriro area by a land baron who took advantage of a dragging ownership wrangle between Events Housing Cooperative and Tembwe Housing Cooperative.
Following the demolitions, household property was left strewn all over the place with some women cursing government and council for forsaking them during the rainy season while others rhetorically asked what was being expected of them as they had children to shelter.
MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa who blamed Zanu PF for the act toured the area last week to get an understanding of the situation.
Incarcerated Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume denied his council was responsible despite court papers indicating so.