via Demolitions saga heats up as MDC-T deny responsibility | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda November 15, 2013
The chairperson of the Ruwa District Council has denied ordering the destruction of so-called “illegal structures” that took place in his area last week, after various media reports quoted ZANU PF officials blaming the disastrous campaign on Councils led by MDC-T.
Councillor Phineas Mushayavanhu told SW Radio Africa on Friday that the resolution to demolish the structures had already been passed by a Commission that was running the Council during elections, which was appointed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
Bulldozers tore down tuck shops and houses deemed illegal by the Local Government Ministry in Zimre Park, Runyararo and Damofalls suburbs last Wednesday, and the campaign was due to be rolled out to parts of Harare this week.
But the controversial demolitions were suspended Monday for a period of two months, after strong condemnation from human rights groups, the MDC-T and ZANU PF supporters who benefited from illegal land allocations.
ZANU PF politburo member and deputy minister Tendai Savanhu, this week denied responsibility for ordering the demolitions, insisting that the campaign would be “unconstitutional”, according to the independent Newsday newspaper.
The report quoted Savanhu claiming the demolitions “may have been started by the MDC-T councils in charge of Harare as part of efforts to discredit ZANU PF”.
But Councillor Mushayavanhu dismissed the allegations, saying the Commission appointed by Minister Chombo had passed the resolution and sent minutes from the meeting to central government, which agreed with it by remaining silent.
“So it is the timing that is worrying many people because no sooner had we been inaugurated that they implemented the resolution. But we as Council tried as much as possible to tell the managers not to do it because it would give people the wrong impression,” Mushayavanu said.
He added that the Commission had already “engaged” riot and Council police to oversee the demolitions and accused an “overzealous” district engineer named Mujuru as the key official who implemented the resolution.
Mushayavanhu went further to offer victims of the demolitions some relief, saying despite these “unfortunate events”, those who were unfortunately disadvantaged by the demolitions can approach the council with a view to finding common ground and a way forward”.
The report by Newsday also quotes the Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who is alleged to have ordered the “cleanup” campaign, as saying he did “not know where these reports are coming from.”
Chombo said he had “only ordered an investigation into the issue” and his deputy Biggie Matiza would present recommendations after completing an analysis of the situation in Chitungwiza this week.
The now suspended demolition campaign has exposed the chaos that characterizes the ZANU PF government, the divisions within the party itself and the weak, reactive role that the opposition MDC-T seems to play time and time again.