The Chitungwiza Municipality has cancelled planned house demolitions after a threat to sue them by residents through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
Council Threatened with Litigation
A statement by the Council on Sunday 11 October 2020 resolved to stop the demolitions following tacit admissions the move violates people’s fundamental rights.
In a letter written on behalf of Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) by the ZLHR to the Chamber Secretary at Chitungwiza Municipality, the residents association protested against the local authority’s issuance of a purported Demolition Order on Thursday 8 October 2020.
The order identified places in St Mary’s, Zengeza, Seke and Nyatsime suburbs and ordered people occupying houses in these areas to depart from the land, remove property from the land, demolish any structures erected and restore the land to its original site by Monday 12 October 2020.
Order Infringed Constitution
The lawyers however contend that the demolition order is a violation of residents’ basic rights protected under section 74 of the Constitution.
The section provides that no persons may be evicted from their home or have their home demolished without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.
The lawyers requested a court order authorising the demolitions and gave Council an ultimatum until Monday 12 October.
But in response to the letter Chitungwiza Municipality on Sunday 11 October 2020 said it had resolved to suspend the demolition exercise hence the demolitions will no longer be effected as per its demolition order.