Home » Governance » Chi-Town Residents Vow to Stay Put

CHITUNGWIZA residents, who were given a 21-day notice by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo a fortnight ago to demolish and vacate their houses illegally located in wetlands and other pieces of land earmarked for different uses other than residential, have vowed to stay put until government provides them with alternative housing.

Chombo gave the “illegal” residents three weeks to pack their belongings and vacate their homes because they had unlawfully settled on wetlands, close to high voltage power lines and pieces of land designated for different municipal services. Over 4 000 people would be affected by the planned demolitions.

The residents, however, have vowed not to move an inch saying government should allocate them alternative accommodation. Before they vacate, the residents say they want to be compensated by either government or the leaders of housing cooperatives which sold them the stands. They are also calling on the government to deal decisively with those who fleeced them.

“We are not going anywhere until government allocates us other pieces of land. We do not have anywhere to go since we have lost a lot of money already to these bogus cooperatives whose leaders should be arrested,” said one resident who declined to be named. A woman whose two- roomed cottage situated on a wetland was flooded at the height of the rainy season in January was in near tears as she narrated her tribulation.

“We are not responsible for this trouble. We were deceived by these housing cooperatives and now government wants to evict us as if we are the criminals ourselves.

“Government should first bring the culprits to book and make them repay our money so that we can resettle elsewhere otherwise we are not going anywhere,” she said.

Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association director, Admire Zaya, said government should not rush to evict the settlers before providing them with alternative accommodation.

“As residents’ representatives, we are against the issue of haphazard and unplanned eviction of the people though we acknowledge that construction of homes should be lawful.

“We are lobbying Chitungwiza Municipality to immediately implement the recommendations of the commission of inquiry which directed them to speedily formalise the occupation of those that paid for their stands directly to council. Council is not taking a wholesome approach to these recommendations,” he said. The High Court recently ordered the Municipality to recognise the Nyatsime settlers and evict those that settled illegally but nothing has been done yet.

“We are exerting pressure on council so that they can first provide habitable places to the people that are directly affected by this move because the last thing we would want is to create destitutes,” said Zaya.

Zaya also called for the prosecution of the land barons who illegally allocated stands to unsuspecting victims calling them thieves who deserve to be put in jail. Chitungwiza Residents Trust secretary general, Tinashe Kazuru, said the matter was still pending in the courts.

“As of now I cannot comment much on that matter because it is still pending in court. We took council to court and we are expecting the ruling on May 17 so we are telling our residents to stay put until that date.

“The Minister cannot climb podiums at public gatherings and declare that the residents have three weeks to vacate without following procedures. As far as we are concerned, that pronouncement is a nullity as only the court has the mandate to evict people. So practically, no one is going anywhere,” said Kazuru.

Source : Financial Gazette