HUNDREDS of houses in Zimbabwe’s high-density suburb of Budiriro were recently demolished. According to city council officials (at the time of the interview and writing), these houses were built illegally,
Nyaradzo Nyere (NN) spoke to Harare City Council acting spokesperson Innocent Ruwende (IR) on the demolitions.
Below are excerpts of the interview at the time of writing.
NN: What steps has the city of Harare taken on demolitions of houses?
IR: The city does not demolish houses, it is the Sherriff of the court who executes court orders. When people settle illegally, the city issues 48-hour notices to the illegal occupants. When they do not take heed, the council then approaches the court to get eviction orders. When we get such orders the Sherriff of the court then demolishes their properties.
Currently, the City of Harare has notified residents that it is in possession of 20 court orders to demolish illegal settlements and houses in the city.
In the case of Budiriro, the Sheriff of the High Court executed one of such orders in the suburb where 160 houses were demolished in the presence of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and City of Harare officials. The City of Harare would like to make it clear that it did not demolish any houses but it was the sheriff executing a court judgement which was in favour of the city.
The court orders came as a result of legal battles wherein some people or cooperatives would have settled on certain pieces of land without council authority or following proper procedures. The law stipulates that in cases where structures would have been built, a court order has to be obtained before demolition is executed.
Once a court order is granted, demolitions will be conducted by the Sheriff of Court, with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and our own municipal police. The sheriff will notify us as and when he will be ready for the next demolitions.
NN: What are the main factors that cause people to build illegally?
IR: Some are duped by land barons, politicians and cooperatives and they fail to verify the authenticity of such stands.
NN: How can residents verify and ensure that they are not duped when buying land?
IR: Residents can always verify with the council at our housing department in Mbare.
NN: What advice would you like to give residents with regards to buying land in Harare?
IR: We would like to reiterate that home seeker must not be duped of their hard-earned money by unscrupulous individuals and must verify with the local authority before purchasing any pieces of land.