from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – RESIDENTS living around Zimbabwe’s main international airport are opposed to plans by authorities to demolish their properties.
This is the latest standoff between residents and authorities in a country with a dilemma of citizens building on prohibited spaces and government disregarding the rights to shelter and property.
Aggrieved residents of Arlington Estates in the capital, Harare have given a 48-hour ultimatum to Tafadzwa Muguti, the Harare Metropolitan Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, demanding that he should assure them that he is not going to proceed with demolishing their properties.
This after Muguti warned of demolitions in an area around Robert Mugabe International Airport.
Muguti said the developments in the areas were within a so-called red zone which affects the operations of the airport, in violation of the Civil Aviation Act and the Airports Company of Zimbabwe Act.
The provincial government further indicated it would approach the courts to obtain a demolition order.
In a letter written to Muguti on Tuesday, Arlington Estates Homeowners Association, represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenged Muguti’s claims.
They argue the development of properties by residents was done in accordance with the law.
All necessary approvals and inspections were done and approved by the Local Planning Authority, which is the City of Harare, residents said.
They obtained Title Deeds.
The residents’ letter was also delivered to City of Harare, Local Government Minister and Civil Aviation Authority.
Residents plan to approach the High Court.
Zimbabwe has a history of large scale demolitions.
In 2005, the then-government of President Robert Mugabe destroyed structures, leaving at least 700 000 people without shelter or livelihoods, according to the United Nations (UN).
Government deemed the structures illegal and perpetuating crime.
The opposition claimed the government’s main reason for the so-called Operation Restore Order was to punish the urban poor for voting against Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
– CAJ News