ZANU-PF MP mired in demolitions debacle
Andrew Kunambura and Idah Mhetu
IRATE Harare residents whose homes were destroyed last week, have made a passionate plea to President Robert Mugabe to discipline ZANU-PF Harare provincial political commissar and Harare South Legislator, Shadreck Mashayamombe, whom they alleged was behind the housing co-operative which settled them on Arlington Estate adjacent to Harare International Airport.
President Mugabe ordered the removal of the settlers while officially opening the expanded Airport road along which the settlement was established in November last year.
This was after he inquired with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Savour Kasukuwere, whether or not that piece of land was not reserved for airport expansion.
But Kasukuwere, who was then new to the ministry, could not give the President a satisfactory answer, prompting Mashayamombe, who was present at the occasion, to intervene and assure President Mugabe that the settlers would be driven out of the area within a month.
This was despite the fact that, at law, residents whose properties are earmarked for demolition should be given three months’ notice.
The land is administered by Kasukuwere’s ministry as it is State land and therefore not under Harare City Council’s jurisdiction.
However, it was the Harare City Council which destroyed dozens of the houses using its frontend loaders.
City of Harare spokesman, Michael Chideme, said council only supplied the vehicles at government’s request.
Distraught residents sitting on heaps of rubble from what had been their dream houses want Mashayamombe and Smith Marara, a senior ZANU-PF official who sits in its principal policy organ – the Central Committee – arrested for settling them on the land, allegedly pocketing thousands of dollars in the process.
The duo, along with three others simply identified as Muchato, Murove and Maravanyika, were said to be the force behind Nyikavanhu Housing Corporative, which collected money from the residents.
The residents said they had previously tried unsuccessfully to bring Mashayamombe to account.
They claimed to have made numerous police reports that have not been attended to, while petitions for his censure by the party had been ignored at the national headquarters.
“We are appealing to President Mugabe to help us bring him to book. We no longer want him to represent us. We tried to engage him to sort this issue before these demolitions started, but he is arrogant. He openly shouted at me at one of the meetings telling me to go and tell our problems to ‘one old man who is always on the plane while the economy crumbles’. Now it has come to this,” said Margaret Kasere, as she pondered her next move after the caterpillar ran through her house on Friday.
“We have now become slaves in our own country. Shaddy (Mashayamombe) should be arrested for this,” she added.
Kasere’s neighbour, Virginia Chiyangwa, whose three roomed house was also flattened, claimed that the co-operative’s leaders were demanding upfront payment of between US$300 and US$500 from residents so that they could be allocated new stands in Stoneridge where they are also facing the challenge of double allocations.
“We are being told to pay between US$300 and US$500 so that we are shown the new stands in Stoneridge, but we are saying they have taken a lot of money from us already and they want more. We do not have that kind of money and we have been told that anyone who has no money must forget about going to Stoneridge, so we are stranded here. This is cruel,” she moaned.
A 54-year-old man who declined to be identified said he paid US$400 to be relocated to Stoneridge only to discover that the same stand he was to occupy had been allocated to three other people who were already fighting for it.
“I came back and confronted Marara who said I should just proceed to erect my own structure at the stand. But there are already three other people fighting over it and one of them has his own structure. Where then do I fit? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Mashayamombe harshly rebuked his accusers when asked to respond to the allegations against him this week, dismissing them as “mad thieves”.
“Ndezvekupenga zvavarikutaura izvozvo. Vanopenga vanhu vakuudza izvozvo. Imbavha dzajaira zvemahara (That is madness. The people who told you that are mad. They are thieves. They are used to freebies),” he shouted over the phone, and then turned his gun at the Financial Gazette and accused it of harbouring a vendetta against him.
This was when he was asked to respond to allegations of collecting more money from the desperate people.
“Why are you the only journalist that wants to write this? Others are not writing it. We know you very well. You have an agenda against us, manje hazvititadzisi kufema izvozvo (But that does not bother us),” he charged.
When asked to explain what the agenda was, Mashayamombe only said: “I have said we know you. You are fighting us,” and terminated the call.
The residents have also dismissed claims by government that they are illegal occupants who settled themselves on state land earmarked for development projects, saying they had acquired offer letters from government.
Documents seen by the Financial Gazette indicate that Nyikavanhu Housing Co-operative was actually allocated 530,25 hectares of formerly Arlington Farm to subdivide into residential, some of which were to be set aside for civil servants.
A copy of the development permit written on behalf of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government by one Mr Sibanda partly read: “This letter serves to advise that you are now permitted to develop portions of the remainder of subdivision E of Arlington Estate, which you occupied before operation Murambatsvina. You can now engage City of Harare to approve the engineering drawings for water, sewerage reticulation and roads.”
The letter is dated January 15, 2006. In 2011, the Civil Aviation Authority cleared the land for housing development.”
“Please, be advised that the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe cleared your application and the development should be carried out according to requirements listed by the Harare City Council,” CAAZ’s then acting director of airports, Priscilla Mawire, also wrote in a separate document.
Subsequently, in 2013, documents show, the co-operative approached the caretaker council, headed by Harare Provincial Administrator, Alfred Tome, seeking approval of its projects. The caretaker council temporarily ran the city’s affairs when council was dissolved in the run up to last year’s harmonised elections
The caretaker council obliged as shown in correspondences dated April 4, 2013.
“Nyikavanhu housing co-operative has been legally offered the land for housing development purposes,” Tome wrote.
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