30 July 2009
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and other key stakeholders like Amnesty International Zimbabwe Chapter have objected to the plans by the Harare City Council to carry out forced evictions of people in informal settlements around Harare. The pending evictions have generated restlessness and panic among residents of Harare who feel that the move is unfair and violates residents’ right to shelter.
What is disturbing about this issue is the lack of adequate planning regarding the issues of forced evictions given the vivid memories of operation Murambatsvina of 2005. The most worrying issue is that contrary to the reasonable arguments regarding health hazards in the light of the recent cholera outbreak, there is no clear plan of resettlement of the affected people in compliance with international norms on evictions. Further is the absence of consultations and agreed solutions with the members affected and these are coming as mere directives. Effectively, this is disregard for human rights. CHRA is reliably informed that the City of Harare has not made any plans for alternative accommodation for the affected residents. One of the Harare City Councilors only highlighted that the settlers might be put at Caledonia Farm in Mabvuku; a place that neither has sanitary facilities nor readily built houses. In this regard, representatives from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Amnesty International Zimbabwe Chapter (AIZ), Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Traders Association, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe Chamber of Cooperative Housing, representatives from the Gunhill settlements and Newlands Arts and Crafts met to deliberate on this issue and came up with strategies on how to deal with this issue. The delegates to the meeting made the following resolutions;
· Meeting with the Mayor and his Deputy on Wednesday the 5th of August 2009 and having a press conference thereafter.
· Aggressive media campaign through opinion letters and alerts
· Demand that Council should give a three months notice to the Gunhill informal settlers and come up with alternative accommodation for them.
· If the City of Harare is to go ahead with evicting The Newlands Arts and Crafts Informal traders; not only an alternative, but a marketable selling point should be made available to them.
· Petition letters will be written to the Ministry of Local Government, City of Harare Councilors and Parliamentarians.
Residents object to forced evictions which do not address the long term issues of socio-economic rights especially of the people and vulnerable. An agreed plan must be put in place to curb the recurrence of such settlements. CHRA remains committed to advocating for good and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality municipal (and other) service delivery on a non-partisan basis.