Belvedere West families left homeless after their houses were demolished
On the 3rd of September 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) human rights monitoring team visited Belvedere West, where the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has destroyed houses that were built on illegal land, leaving many families homeless. The demolition came two days before the residents had been warned to demolish and vacate the area – which was a follow up to a 2019 court order for them to vacate as the area is said to be a cantonment.
While ZimRights observes the court order was in accordance with the provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution (Section 74), which states that “no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances”, the nature of the demolitions , which began during the night, is a cause for concern as it exposed the affected families, including children to the harsh weather elements. ZimRights also learnt that some of the affected residents were forced to take part in the demolitions and those who refused or were deemed slow were subjected to assault.
What is more worrying is the pervasive conduct of land barons who continue to thrive right under the nose of the law enforcement agents and Municipal authorities – effectively exposing thousands of home seekers to being duped by these unscrupulous barons. The affected residents of Belvedere West claim to have bought their stands from a cooperative, whose existence has been denied by the Harare City Council. What is clear though, is that these residents are among countless others in Zimbabwe, who have fallen victim to the land barons.