The City of Harare has been engaging in the demolitions of houses that they have described as illegal structures. One recent demolition blitz is reported to have destroyed 200 houses and left families without shelter at a time when the rains have begun pouring down. The demolitions have been received with mixed feelings. Some people believe they are ruthless because when the settlers were erecting their structures nothing happened. After the houses were completed and the people had expended a lot of money the City Council begun the demolitions. 





Harare Street map form
The City of Harare also have a legitimate defense if the developments were done without following the  law. Through the law like the Regional and Urban Town Planning Act the authorities seeks to always ensure order in the use and development of land. This issue of order is tied to those like property rights and investment which have a bearing on our economy and livelihood .
Indeed, if the demolished houses were erected outside the perimeter of the law then the actions of the council were justifiable. But in order to do justice to this matter we also need to look at the law also. Why because the laws we use today were crafted during the days of wide spread segregation that ensured that the majority of the people stayed on the smaller piece of the city whilst the minority stayed luxuriously on the bigger one. This explains why the high densities like Mbare, Highfield, Glen View etc where the majority stays occupy about one third of Harare when low densities like Borrowdale, Glen Lorne, Umwinsidale, Mnt Pleasant, Chishawasha etc where the minority are occupy the remainder. The street map of Harare at the Surveyor General shows this unfair distribution of land in Harare.

Over the years the Regional and Urban Town Planning Act, other relevant laws and policies were supposed to be amended by Paliament in order to address historical imbalances that were cunningly designed to make the people squatters in their own country. For example why is it that some people in Highfields and Glen Norah are still tenants on properties they have stayed for decades.  This was part of discriminatory stratagems designed in such a way that ordinary people will not access capital through collateral. 

There are a lot of reasons why there is an explosive demand for housing by the people but the aforementioned reasons are indispensable. They affect all of us! This is my opinion of the matter which may differ from yours. House demolitions ! Justifiable or ruthless ? What do you think?


  1. Chaos Theory. Without justifying the illegal positioning of any buildings, I find that city authorities and the Central govt. both do not have their houses in order. Yet when it comes to making our people suffer through demolitions, they are quite efficient. 'Illegal structures'? Namibia and South Africa have these galore, yet their economies and governance are miles ahead of us. Main electric power and water are connected by the authorities therein. It shocked me when I 1st saw it, vis-à-vis our 'British' standards. (Yet we claim we emancipated ourselves from these ruthless colonisers!!) But I quickly understood that this is a gesture by accountable/democratic governments that are saying to their people, 'Sorry we did not provide infrastructure quick enough.' As it is in our Zim, there are so many versions of the law. Those that favour the high and mighty who, by the way never have their illegal activities including structures being censored. And those laws that apply to me and other expendable people who have to queue in hospitals and other 'public' amenities like which are non-functional. Root cause: We suffer from 'hangover' laws (inherited from our colonisers) and neo-colonial ones penned by our leaders as they go.

  2. Your observation is spot on Mr Shoko... well distilled. These laws' origin has a problem with us.


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