Vendors defy eviction as Govt appeals court order

Source: Vendors defy eviction as Govt appeals court order | The Herald

Vendors defy eviction as Govt appeals court order
Back on the road… Mbudzi round about traders back on site

Municipal Reporter

Defiant informal traders are rebuilding their shacks on road verges and in road reserves, amid revelations that some corrupt council officials were taking bribes to allow encroachments.

This comes as Government is moving swiftly to appeal a High Court order to stop demolitions.

The demolitions are not being done under the planning or licensing laws, but under the Roads Act which prohibits all structures built on land demarcated as a road reserve and so it is being argued that since it is an offence to block part of a road there can be no legal comeback for those told to move.

But Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), on behalf of Chitungwiza Residents Trust, applied to the High Court to have the demolitions stopped on the grounds that people were not notified in advance, although Government officials said there was wide publicity over the need to move away from roads.

In any case, the authorities are entitled to remove obstructions on public roads and highways.

It was business as usual at Mbudzi round-about on Friday where traders whose structures were destroyed last week were back, although most at the moment selling their wares in open spaces.

Zimbabwe Industrial and Technological Revolutionary Party (ZITER) leader Daniel Chingoma was seen rebuilding a permanent structure.

Others with destroyed wooden structures had already rebuilt them and doing business, while some were in the process of doing so.

At Zindoga Shopping Centre in Waterfalls, it was also business as usual with backyard food outlets braaing and selling food, although none appeared to have the required licence nor undergone the required health inspection.

It was a different case in Chitungwiza where order prevailed, as most informal traders had taken heed.

Addressing the press on Friday, Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Tafadzwa Muguti said while there was a temporary relief on demolitions, there were some very mischievous people who quoted the wrong Act when they approached the courts.

“They were quoting the Regional and Town Planning Act, which gives us precedence over development control in terms of special planning which includes housing and everything else, but the Roads Act sets precedence when it comes to our roads,” he said.

“As Government we will appeal. The Roads Act takes precedence and criminalises those who construct on roads. Most of these road servitudes are housing criminals and being used as brothels.”

Mr Muguti said it was shocking that there were so many so-called residents trusts and associations that did not even have members, and seemed to be funded by the opposition, but were making noise so that chaos prevailed since they benefited from it.

“We wonder which residents they are representing when there is chaos on the streets of Harare,” he said.

“There were adverts in newspapers and notices on social media on the exercise, but they say they were never notified.

“We are guided by the law not emotions. This is what killed Harare.”

Mr Muguti warned defiant traders that are bribing council officials and corrupt politicians in the hope of regularisation.

“We will never ever regularise on road servitudes,” he said.

“We applaud whistle blowers for giving us names of corrupt council officials that facilitated issuance of leases.”

Mr Muguti said the cancellation of some leases of land next to roads was underway.

“Those car dealers that built permanent structures on road servitudes and those that have not been paying to council will be removed, while only those that are not encroaching the road servitudes and are up to date will be spared,” he said.

The ongoing blitz to clean up the mess around Harare Metropolitan province road servitudes started on Monday last week.