HARARE City Council yesterday declared that the demolition of illegal structures – which started at Fourth Street bus terminus on Sunday – marked the launch of a massive clean-up campaign targeting all illegal structures including houses, tuck shops, flea markets and mobile phone booths.
"The city must do what is right. All illegal structures are illegal," Manyenyeni said.
where our next target is, but the idea is to clean the city from illegal houses, squatter camps and all illegal activities. Everybody knows that what they are doing is illegal and should act to regularise if they can. If they can't, then action is taken. We cannot compromise on that."
The demolition exercise is likely to invoke sad memories of the 2005 government-sanctioned Operation Murambatsvina which left about 700 000 people homeless, according to a report by UN-Habitat special envoy Anna Tibaijuka.
Then the demolition campaign received wide condemnation from civic society groups and opposition parties, including the MDC-T.
It could not be ascertained yesterday if the current exercise had been cleared by government as Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo could not be reached for comment
Manyenyeni, who joined council on an MDC-T ticket last year, yesterday said a decision on their next target would be announced soon.
"Resolution or no resolution, the city must always be clean. You don't need a ministerial directive to make the city clean. On Econet and Telecel booths, there was compliance on some, but to those that did not comply, they will be removed. It's not about the size of the brand that matters, it's the legality of the matter," he added.
Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi concurred with Manyenyeni, saying council would not retreat in pulling down all illegal structures in Harare as most of them, like those at the Fourth Street rank, had become an eyesore.
"We have always placed it on record that all illegal structures will be pulled down. After this (Fourth Street demolitions), we will sit and assess, then from there we will have a clear picture of the way forward.
"Wherever we find illegal structures, from the city centre, suburbs and anywhere, we will pull them down," Gwindi said.
But, Combined Harare Residents' Association chairman Simbarashe Moyo accused the city fathers of violating the country's Constitution by failing to provide alternatives after destroying people's sources of livelihood and shelter.
"What council is doing is actually illegal. They are violating the Constitution and I want to believe there is nothing illegal about those structures. Council should understand that they are destroying lives. Our economy is highly informal and those people whose property they are destroying are trying to make an honest living," said Moyo.
The Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) in a statement said the demolitions should be done in a transparent manner and the city should not continue to condemn the people into poverty.
"The demolitions of the Fourth Street terminus tuck shops, called illegal operations, should be done in a transparent and accountable manner, consistent with the laws and Constitution of Zimbabwe," said the HRT.
"The City of Harare should not act with malice when the economy is sinking and social hardships are deepening by the day. The poor majority must be protected from this aggression from the local authority. Let the poor have peace and security. Of course, everything must be transparent."
Investigations by NewsDay revealed that more than 75 people who operated small-scale businesses at the Fourth Street rank had been rendered jobless.
Thousands of residents in Harare are surviving on vending and other informal activities and the decision by council, observers said, would create a socio-economic disaster for the city.
Recently, the city engaged the services of the Joint Operations Command to restore order in the central business district after vendors and commuter omnibus crews ran roughshod over council by-laws.