The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is deeply concerned by the complete disregard of the law by the City of Harare when executing house demolitions around the capital.
In as much as we do not condone illegal housing structures, we note with concern that the City Of Harare has failed to respect citizens’ constitutional right of freedom from arbitrary eviction as enshrined under Section 74 of the country’s supreme law.
Instead of being guided by the constitution, the City of Harare has been implementing house demolitions on the strength of enforcement orders coming from full council resolutions yet Section 68 of the country’s constitution is clear that every person has the right to administrative justice which is both ‘substantively and procedurally fair’.
Executing demolitions without following legal procedures results in a major humanitarian disaster that results in residents not only being left homeless but exposed to various diseases as well.
CHRA calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to uphold the recommendation by the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment Number 7 to the effect that freedom from arbitrary eviction is a fundamental human right.
Arbitrary evictions not only violate the right to shelter but the right to life which is enshrined under Section 48 of the constitution as well as the right to equality before the law as enshrined under Section 56 of the constitution.
Moreover, we are disturbed by the fact that the City Of Harare has roped in the services of the country’s security forces when executing the demolitions which in our firm view, are unconstitutional.
We reiterate that council must be armed with court orders rather than the gun when effecting the demolitions and in this respect; we reiterate our demands for council to follow proper legal procedures before demolishing houses.
In terms of the so called illegal housing structures, the City of Harare’s Planning Department is equally to blame as they have been complicit on issues of double allocation of stands and the allocation of housing stands on wetlands. Corruption and abuse of political power thus remain major challenges regarding the sprouting of illegal structures in Harare.
Going forward, public litigation remains an option for us given the high number of residents who are facing eviction due to the continued unconstitutional demolitions by the City of Harare.
We shall continue with the legal route as a way of compelling the City of Harare to abide by the 2018 Supreme Court ruling to the effect that the 1979 by-law upon which council is relying on when implementing demolitions is unconstitutional.
It is quite clear that the 1979 by-law is unconstitutional and archaic as it gives residents a 48 hour ultimatum to vacate or face demolitions without offering them alternative accommodation.
CHRA will continue to implement community programmes aimed at educating residents on their constitutional rights that include freedom from arbitrary eviction.
We shall also continue engaging with various policymakers to ensure that the constitution takes precedence before any form of demolition that poses a humanitarian disaster is implemented.
I THANK YOU.
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