Illegal Structures Demolished By Chitungwiza Municipality

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A picture taken 17 June 2005 shows a house being destroyed in Chitungwiza, about 30km south of Harare, as part of Mugabe's government clean-up campaign named Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth)/ Operation Restore Order. Europe must not give lessons to African governments on how to deal with Zimbabwe, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday on the eve of talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki. AFP PHOTO/STR

Chitungwiza Town Council on Friday destroyed illegal structures in the Chidochevanhu Beerhall compound in Unit N, Seke.

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Grocery tuck shops, hair salons, and hardware shops, among others, had been erected within the compound.

Speaking to NewsDay, George Madongwe, a former council employee who leases Chidochevanhu beerhall, said the demolitions were unjustified. He said:

Council’s actions were not justified and are a gross violation of human rights. No reasons were given for demolitions as there was no official communication from the council. Valuables worth US$50 000 have been lost.

The council was collecting revenue from these structures as late as November 3, 2022, and there are receipts to support that.Can the council collect revenue from an illegal structure? There were also engagements with the council regarding the structures.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Alice Kuveya also criticised Chitungwiza Municipality for destroying the structures without notice.

However, acting town clerk Evangelista Machona insisted that the structures were illegal. She said:

Those were illegal structures because council leases do not allow the adjustment of infrastructure without the council’s approval. But this is what was done.

Madongwe claimed that the necessary procedures were followed before the structures were erected. He said:

I constructed the structures after notifying the council. I wanted to raise money to pay their exorbitant bills that I couldn’t pay from selling beer alone.

At the same time, I wanted to increase their revenue base as they would collect licence revenues from the shops.

I have enough evidence to debunk the council narrative that I did anything illegal.

I have requests for bill adjustments, payment plans, payments made and proposals for change of use.

I am a former council employee with special circumstances compared to ordinary leaseholders.

Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts (ZNOART) Chitungwiza chairperson Obert Matsika said the local authority should have acted in 2019 when the structures were built.

The municipality also demolished other illegal structures at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre in St Mary’s.

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