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Lawyers warn Mugabe on airport squatters

Lawyers warn Mugabe on airport squatters

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Published: 7 December 2015

ZIMBABWE – Lawyers and Harare residents’ groups have vowed to resist government efforts to evict some 200 families who illegally built structures close to the Harare International Airport.

The airport settlers, as they have become known, comprise mostly Zanu PF supporters who took residence in the area inside the past 10 years, apparently, with the ruling party’s approval.

Yet still, they could soon find themselves homeless if the same authorities proceed to carry out President Robert Mugabe’s recent order for them to vacate the area, which is intended for airport expansion.

The sprawling settlement is visible to visitors driving along the airport road, something a miffed President Mugabe was quick to describe last month as an eyesore.

However, anguished residents would find solace to hear that the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has cautioned against the move which could easily bring more misery to families during the onset of the rain season.

Whoever is planning to evict people must take into consideration the provisions of Section 74 of the Constitution, ZLHR Communications officer Kumbirai Mafunda told NewZimbabwe.com weekend.

He added: The Constitution states that no person can be evicted from their home without whoever is plotting to evict them securing a court order and considering the circumstances of the person living in that particular place.

We are urging anyone with an appetite to make people homeless to be informed by the provisions of the Constitution.

The lawyers’ group has in the past few months secured on their behalf, crucial court rulings barring the forced removal and demolition of homes belonging to thousands of residents in parts of the city.

Harare provincial affairs minister Miriam Chikukwa and Zanu PF legislator for Harare South Shadreck Mashayamombe visited the area last week to inform the beleaguered residents that authorities were going ahead with their eviction.

Government wants the residents to relocate to Retreat Farm where they should restart the process of building new structures at their own expense.

The settlers are adamant they were lawfully settled on the land and have defied a government ultimatum to vacate the place.

Combined Harare Residents Association chair, Simba Moyo was equally behind the settlers.

Everyone has the right to shelter and if government really wants to see these people leave the place, it should ensure it compensates them, he said.

We call for due process to be followed; these people did not wake up to find themselves there, they were settled by people with authoritative positions somewhere.

His comments were echoed by Harare Residents’ Trust director Precious Shumba who urged the arrest of land barons who settled them there.

If they want to move them away from the place, they must ensure they first arrest the people who own the housing cooperative that put them there, he said.

Those people did not just emerge from nowhere; they were brought there through housing cooperatives linked to Zanu PF. So, Zanu PF and President Mugabe must not create an impression that they were not aware of the settlement.