Chitungwiza Municipality Halts Demolitions After ZLHR’s Protest

The Chitungwiza Municipality has stopped the planned demolition of some property after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) vigorously protested against the local authority’s cruel actions.

Chitungwiza Municipality Acting Town Clerk Evangelista Machona had on 30 December 2021 issued a Demolition Order stating that the local authority would on 2 January 2022 start demolishing some “buildings and durawalls” at Town Centre Unit D Shopping Centre, which it claims had been built or erected without its approval.

This incensed Chitungwiza Residents Trust, which engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR, who on 31 December 2021 wrote a letter to Chitungwiza Municipality asking the local authority to withdraw its Demolition Order as it was unlawful because it had not obtained a court order authorising it to demolish the buildings and durawalls as provided in Section 74 of the Constitution.

Chinopfukutwa also protested that the Demolition Order only made a blanket reference to Town Centre Unit D Shopping Centre and did not identify the individual stand numbers and properties targeted for demolition making it difficult for residents to ascertain if they are covered by the Demolition Order or not.

The human rights lawyer said the Demolition Order did not comply with provisions of Section 32 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act and the Administrative Justice Act and he also reminded Chitungwiza Municipality that there is a pending provisional order granted by Justice Edith Mushore on 10 June 2021 staying demolitions of all homes, durawalls and informal traders’ structures.

Chinopfukutwa warned Chitungwiza Municipality that he would approach the High Court seeking an order for contempt of court and other appropriate relief in the event that the local authority decided to proceed with the demolitions.

In response, on Monday 3 January 2022, Machona wrote a letter to Chinopfukutwa advising him that “no demolitions shall be executed in compliance” with the Demolition Order and that “demolition of illegal structures shall be executed subject to the provisions of the Constitution and the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.

Over the years, ZLHR has intervened on several occasions to save residents of Chitungwiza after the local authority would have threatened to demolish their properties.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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