Budiriro demolitions: Govt shows no appetite to prosecute land barons, as residents are told to move to football pitch

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Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo has recommended that over 134 families whose homes were demolished by Harare City Council last week, relocate to a football pitch but has not shown any appetite to push for the prosecution of the offending housing cooperatives.

Dozens of families whose homes were demolished are rebuilding their homes in defiance while a Zanu-PF linked Housing Cooperative has already begun to move in to assume ownership of the settlement as the nightmare land scam continues unrestricted.

In a report on the ministry’s recommendations on the demolished homes, Moyo offered little relief to Budiriro 4 residents’ save to say that Government had proposed that the affected families be temporarily moved to Zimbabwe Grounds.

“While it is a fact that Events Housing Cooperative was in the process of being allocated the said piece of land, Tembwe Housing Cooperative invaded the land resulting in the Harare City Council and the two cooperatives dragging each other to court,” Moyo said in his report.

Moyo acknowledged that the timing of the demolitions, during the rainy season and the on-going covid-19 pandemic has degenerated into a humanitarian crisis prompting the general public outcry.

“While the objectives of the court ruling are yet to be fully applied, the Harare Metropolitan Provincial Civil Protection Committee activated its structures to assist the affected families,” Moyo said.

“A meeting on the 12th of December 2020  between the Civil Protection Committee members and the affected members reached a deadlock on the proposal by the Government and its partners to relocate the affected families to Zimbabwe grounds in Highfields, where there are water and sanitation facilities, as a temporary measure. The reason for relocating them to Highfields was for the Government not to act against the court order, notwithstanding other challenges associated with the relocation exercise. The affected families’ argument was that, they were not Events Housing Cooperative members but are Tembwe Housing Cooperative members. Their argument was thrown away by the court during the court ruling.”

To date, Harare City Council has secured twenty-three court rulings in their favor, and twenty two are yet to be executed.

In a recent interview, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume said the co-operatives are registered and recognised by government and not council hence they could not monitor their activities.

“They (Government and cooperatives) bypassed council and created co-operatives regulated by the Co-operative Act under minister Sithembiso Nyoni,” Mafume said.

“The co-operatives are not regulated by council but registered by government. It is government which has a register of these co-operatives. They report to government and we do not have power over them.”

“They (Co-operatives) have become a law unto themselves and government has failed to control them as well as to protect the people who are fleeced by them,” he said.

Zim Morning Post is reliably informed that new home seekers could be resold the contentious unserviced stands under Events Housing Cooperative, once victims of last week’s demolitions vacate the settlement.

Events Housing Cooperative is said to have the backing of Harare City Council senior employees and that of Harare Metropolitan Province Minister Oliver Chidawu and the recently appointed Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti.

Curiously, Muguti has been speaking out against Events Housing Cooperative in public.

However, impeccable insiders say “it’s a well-orchestrated scam of enormous proportions.”

Zim Morning Post gathered that at initial stage of regularisation Budiriro 4 home-seekers were classified under Tembwe Housing Cooperative before some senior members of the cooperative broke away to form Events Housing Cooperative in 2013.

“They then connived with council officials to remove the other party for self-enrichment. Court battles erupted but Council lost. Council then filed as applicant and cited Events as respondents. Tembwe was not cited,” an insider said.

“Unsurprisingly, Events never challenged the order and a court order was granted in favour of HCC,” the insider added.

Muguti has publicly conceded that Events never challenged the HCC application.

Tembwe currently hold High Court and Supreme Court orders granted in 2015 and 2018 that interdict Council from demolishing.

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