Arron Nyamayaro, H-Metro Reporter
HARARE City council officials have been accused of demanding US$45000 from Budiriro families whose houses were demolished by the local authority on Tuesday.
More than 100 houses were demolished following a High Court order to demolish their houses, which were built on stands acquired illegally.
After spending the night exposed to wet weather while some turned to find shelter in their vehicles, a few defiant families were seen rebuilding their structures to put their properties.
With no immediate solution, they fear rain will destroy their household properties.
On Wednesday some of the demolition victims claimed that there was a deliberate ploy to fix them without their knowledge, as a party that went to court against council did not represent the house owners.
Instead, the victims allege that it was a breakaway cooperative fronted by an individual related to a senior council official that went to court and allowed the demolition of houses.
The victims claim they were not aware of any court action and they were not served warning letters ahead of the demolition.
While Tuesday’s action was said to be against members of Events Housing Cooperative led by Paradzai Muchechetere, the victims says they belong to Tembwe Housing Cooperative fronted by Caleb Kadye.
Muchechetere is said to be related to Harare City Council head of planning, Priscilla Charumbira who was arrested in October on allegations of abuse of office while conniving with some councillors, including former mayor Herbert Gomba, to change land use for open spaces and wetlands.
In a letter addressed to President Mnangagwa dated 10 October 2020, families whose houses were demolished sought government intervention after they refused to pay a bribe of US$45 000 for the facilitation of regularisation of their documents by Charumbira.
“As civil servants and members of the Tembwe Housing Co-operative (THC), we would like to express our gratitude to you as our President and your administration on a splendid work and frantic efforts you are doing on curbing corruption at City of Harare.
“We are 167 members who are on the ground as Tembwe residents in Budiriro since 2010, and were pushing our documents so that we get recognised by the council.
“However, our papers were blocked by high Council officials Charumbira, Marara, Ncube and Dzehonye demanding US$45 000 from us so that we get recognised by the council.
“Harare City Council wants to regularize Events Housing Co-operative which is not on the ground and it is a baby of Charumbira fronted by her cousin Muchechetere.
“Your Excellency, we wonder how come a co-operative (sic) be formed within a co-operative, fighting the same piece of land. It’s corruption,” reads part of the letter.
“Mr President, following the submissions made by Harare City Council for all co-operatives in Harare and their status, we are not residing on a school site, but we are residing on the remainder of Gleneagle farm (Budiriro 5) since 2010, which council cited as Events Housing Co-operative which is not true and this area is not wetland or service station.
“Can you please make some investigations to why council is citing us as Events members while we are not.
“As for the school stand number 23710 (formerly 6110) meant for a primary school, there are no structures on the ground. All this is being drafted, engineered by these corrupt council officials.
“Harare City Council wants to regularise Events Housing Co-operative, which is not on the ground. Events is Mrs Charumbira’s baby. On the remainder of Glen-Eagle Farm there is us, Tembwemembers since 2010. These council officials just want to fix us just because we did not give them US$45000 for us to be regularised in 2014.”
Yesterday, some of the victims said the demolitions were carried out by City of Harare after winning a case against Events Housing Co-operative which has no members on the ground.
“Families have been left homeless following the demolitions are members of Tembwe Housing Co-operative and are the ones who refused to bribe council.
“To a senior council official, demolitions fixed the families who refused to give her money she wanted in the name of a non-existing Events Housing Co-operative she formed out of an existing Tembwe.
“She claimed the land was meant for a school in 2014 and we were surprised to be asked to join Events Housing Co-operative at the same piece of land.
“Corrupt City of Harare officials want to sell the land to other desperate home seekers that is why they are fooling the judiciary by taking a non-existing co-operative by the name Events Housing Co-op,” said the victims.