Aggrieved residents of Arlington Estates in Harare have given a 48-hour ultimatum to Tafadzwa Muguti, the Harare Metropolitan Province Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, demanding that he should assure them that he is not going to proceed with demolishing their residential properties.
In an article published in the state-run The Herald newspaper on Tuesday 25 January 2022, titled “Arlington, Retreat properties face demolition, warns Muguti, the Harare Metropolitan Province Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution was extensively quoted stating that all houses and developments built in an area around Robert Mugabe International Airport including Arlington Estate and Retreat suburb face demolition.
Muguti said the developments in the areas were within a so-called red zone which affects the operations of the airport and should therefore be demolished and were also done in violation of the Civil Aviation Act and the Airports Company of Zimbabwe Act. He further indicated that government was going to approach the courts to obtain a demolition order authorising it to conduct the exercise.
But in a letter written to Muguti on Tuesday 25 January 2022, Arlington Estates Homeowners Association, represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenged Muguti’s claims and indicated that the development of properties in Arlington Estate by residents was done in accordance with the law and all the necessary approvals and inspections were done and approved by the Local Planning Authority which is the City of Harare and the residents obtained Title Deeds for their properties.
The Arlington residents said their houses are private properties protected from compulsory deprivation through demolition or otherwise and hence no person may be compulsorily deprived of their property as the planned demolitions constitute a violation of property rights guaranteed in Section 71 of the Constitution.
The residents’ letter was also delivered to City of Harare, Local Government Minister and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
The residents advised Muguti that there is a pending court order against him, the City of Harare and other local authorities issued under HC2857/21 which prohibits him from carrying out any demolitions unless he follows due process and complies with the principles of natural justice as provided for in terms of the Administrative Justice Act.
They accused Muguti of acting in blatant disregard of the existing court order to which human rights lawyers in a separate matter have since applied to the High Court seeking an order for the Harare Metropolitan Province Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution to be declared to be in contempt of court.
The residents said failure to receive an undertaking stopping the planned demolitions of housing properties from Muguti, they will approach the High Court for redress.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights