Zanu PF dumps Harare Airport Road illegal settlers

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HUNDREDS of illegal settlers along Airport Road, affected by President Robert Mugabe’s directive to have them forcibly removed, have slammed Zanu PF’s leadership for “abusing them”.

A picture taken 17 June 2005 shows a house being destroyed in Chitungwiza, about 30km south of Harare, as part of Mugabe's government clean-up campaign named Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth)/ Operation Restore Order. Europe must not give lessons to African governments on how to deal with Zimbabwe, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday on the eve of talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki.   AFP PHOTO/STR
A picture taken 17 June 2005 shows a house being destroyed in Chitungwiza, about 30km south of Harare, as part of Mugabe’s government clean-up campaign named Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth)/ Operation Restore Order. Europe must not give lessons to African governments on how to deal with Zimbabwe, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday on the eve of talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki. AFP PHOTO/STR

The residents told NewsDay as they packed their belongings, that the ruling party’s leadership had allocated them the stands in the full knowledge that the move was illegal.

Harare City Council is set to demolish illegal structures along Harare’s Airport Road after Mugabe recently expressed displeasure at the sprouting houses while officially opening the $15 million stretch of road, saying they had become an eyesore to the country’s main gateway.

The residents said they had also been forced to part with thousands in cash as payment for the illegal stands.

“We were brought here by Zanu PF officials who wanted to get votes from us in 2008. We gave them money for the stands, but right now no one is standing up for us as we get moved,” Patrick Geza said.

“We are being asked to personally demolish our structures so that we save some property and other building materials. We were told to go and stay at Stoneridge, but the problem is that there is not enough space there. Those who have gone there were told to stay at already occupied stands and that has caused a lot of friction. Zanu PF is responsible and we cannot be told to just move without proper accommodation.”

Happymore Ngwena, another resident, confirmed the dwellers were Zanu PF beneficiaries.

“We were brought here by Zanu PF. No one is in sight to help us now. It is at the height of the rainy season and I have nowhere to go. I have four children and because of the uncertainty here, I sent my wife and children to the rural areas,” Ngwena said.

Patricia Chitsamba said the majority of the people there were not employed and finding proper accommodation would be a big challenge.

“The majority of the people who live here are not employed and we settled here through desperation. I wish that responsible authorities could give us some time so that we can harvest our crops. Those who put us here should stand for us,” she said.
However, others pledged to leave by themselves and demolish their houses without coercion.

Yesterday morning NewsDay witnessed a sizeable number had removed roofing sheets with some having left to find accommodation elsewhere while others said they would migrate to the rural areas.

Harare City Council has embarked on a mission to pull down illegal structures in different parts of the capital including threatening to flood other illegal settlements with raw sewage.

Zanu PF Harare provincial spokesperson Abisha Ushewokunze was not available for comment, but since 2008 Zanu PF has been winning elections in Harare South where people were told to settle willy-nilly on State or council land.