Home » Governance » Zanu-PF Supporters in Anti-Chombo Protest

LOCAL Government Minister Ignatius Chombo’s woes worsened Monday after more than a thousand Chitungwiza residents staged a demonstration against demolitions of “illegal structures” in Harare’s dormitory town.

A week ago Chombo found himself at the centre of a storm after traditional leaders accused him of trying to use them in his quest to fight for the Zanu PF presidency.

The minister has not responded to the allegations which have also sucked in President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo clan.

Chombo reportedly chickened out from addressing residents at Chitungwiza Town Council offices, in Zengeza following the expiry of his three-week ultimatum to have the structures demolished.

Monday’s protest, sanctioned and escorted by the police, was fronted by Zanu PF youths who sang revolutionary songs denouncing the minister, castigating him for being the “heartless” brains behind the demolitions.

“Chombo was supposed to come here and address us now he has developed cold feet because he knows we are not going to take this nonsense.

“It shows he is either ashamed or his cynical plan to leave us homeless has failed. We need to know what the plan is but we certainly will not allow him to render us homeless while he enjoys the comfort of his mansion,” said one resident.

In one of the songs the residents denigrated Chombo as a weapon of destruction, chanting “Chombo, Chombo chehondo”.

The demonstrators, who claimed to be beneficiaries of Zanu PF land baron and councillor Fredrick Mabamba’s housing cooperative, urged Chombo to tow the party line.

“The court ruled that government must stop demolitions of housing structures until alternative land and compensation is found. Now we would expect that Chombo, a beneficiary of Zanu PF policies and a minister, should be pushing for the masses to benefit as well,” another resident said.

Chombo’s failure to show up and address the residents prompted a closed meeting of the Zanu PF youth leadership in Chitungwiza and council officials hastily arranged by deputy minister Biggie Matiza in the capital.

The ruling party’s Harare provincial secretary Tawanda Kadengu later said the meeting had been called to find a way of compensating residents whose homes would be demolished.

“Government through the deputy minister has promised us that within the next two days, the department of urban planning will announce the compensation plan after looking at the plan and determining the number of people who will be affected,” Kadengu said.

“We did not demonstrate against the minister but the youths had gathered to hear him speak on the proposed demolitions. We do not demonstrate against our own government and leaders.”

Town clerk George Makunde said the demolitions would not be stopped by a court order obtained by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

“The meeting with deputy minister Matiza was all about the queries of Zanu PF youths who wanted the minister to clarify their issue of compensation.

“The youths were demanding that they be given stands in the event that their structures are demolished. We have agreed to make way for a concept process to be done first,” said Makunde.

Mabamba, who was also present during the short demonstration, said people were free to air their views through demonstrations.

“Whether the people who were demonstrating belong to our cooperative or not, it does not matter. People are free to air their views but at the end, the minister’s directive on the issue of demolitions is the one that matters most,” he said.

Last month civil court Magistrate, Marehwanazvo Govha, granted an interdict against Chitungwiza Municipality, barring the local authority from proceeding with the demolition of houses it said were built on undesignated sites. The Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust (Chitrest) filed an application seeking an interdict order barring the local authority from demolishing houses.

Source : New Zimbabwe