The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, (ZimRights) is concerned with the ongoing demolitions that are destroying the livelihoods of citizens by Harare City Council aided by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Council started the demolitions Mbare on 19 June 2021 and on 29 June 2021 they moved to Glenview 8 home Industry. While City Council claims the structures are illegal, the manner of the demolitions is inhumane as it amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which is prohibited in section 53 of the Constitution.
Hundreds of families have been affected by the demolitions that have affected their right to livelihoods.
Investigations done by ZimRights in both Mbare and Glenview revealed that most of the small business owners were not given the opportunity to remove their wares from the destroyed structures, resulting in them loosing thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and condemning them to poverty.
Citizens are also appalled that a council that has failed to fulfill its service delivery mandate has resources to enable destruction of ratepayers’ sources of livelihoods.
ZimRights reminds council and the police that it is the failure by government to improve the economic situation, the failure by council to provide vending places for the ballooning numbers of citizens out of employment who are trying to eke a living through buying and selling wares that has pushed citizens to construct these “illegal structures.”
Zimbabwean authorities should know that for the majority of the citizens vending is the last resort and given opportunities, citizens would also want formal jobs.
Zimbabwe has a legacy of destroying people’s livelihoods instead of improving the lives of its citizens. In 2005, government’s Operation Murambatsvina left over 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless and without any source of livelihoods and some still destitute up to today.
In this regard, ZimRights calls for the following:
- That the ongoing demolitions be stopped with immediate effect
- That the Harare City Council begins stakeholder engagement process with all affected persons with a clear goal to find a lasting solution.
- That any solution preferred be sensitive to the context in which affected persons are operating which includes the harsh weather conditions and the economic conditions caused by Covid-19 and economic mismanagement.
- That there the council pursues its mission with utmost regard to fundamental rights and the need to protect livelihoods.