|9. April 2015
Council plans another Operation Murambatsvina
The Harare City Council will soon demolish all the illegal structures that have been mushrooming in the capital in what has triggered fears of the return of another Operation Murambatsvina.
Harare was the epicentre of the internationally condemned demolition of illegal structures a decade ago under Operation Murambatsvina which cost the livelihoods of over 700 000 people in 2005.
With memories of Operation Murambatsvina still fresh in residents’ minds; the latest move by the city fathers is set to touch a raw nerve.
Plans are already at an advanced stage for the city to swoop on all illegal structures, particularly tuck shops that have flourished in high density suburbs in recent years as residents seek to escape the jaws of poverty through establishing backyard retail outlets.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that council, through its audit committee, recently carried out an inspection of the city and established that illegal structures were flourishing everywhere.
It singled out tuck shops which have since been earmarked for demolition.
In a report submitted to a full council meeting recently, the committee also recommended that the city fathers urgently act on the invasion of open spaces and land reserved for schools and recreational activities by land barons who settle people thereon illegally.
The Urban Councils Act empowers local authorities to put and enforce by-laws that prohibit illegal structures.
Illegal structures are buildings erected without approval from the authorities.
City of Harare director of Works, Philip Pfukwa, has been instructed to submit a detailed report to the committee giving a naccount of the situation on the ground and what needs to be done.
He will also recommend the course of action for ratification by the full council meeting when it meets later this month.
Council sources said Pfukwa will recommend a crackdown on illegal structures, including sites illegally settled on by land hungry homeseekers. The move is likely to meet stiff resistance from impoverished residents who rely on the backyard stores for income.
The city is also poised for a running battles with residents should it dare demolish those structures erected at the instigation of land barons, some of whom are well disposed politically.
Last month, council also ignited a heated debate when it announced plans to ban residents from operating backyard chicken runs on health grounds, with residents sharply criticising the development as an insensitive one.
Council is already involved in a nasty battle with its residents over its plans to introduce pre-paid water meters.
(Financial Gazette, Harare)