HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWEAN informal settlements have experienced a spike in violence as land barons linked to the ruling Zanu-PF demolish houses to force residents off the lands.
The residents are caught up in the middle of skirmishes emanating from a fallout among the leaders of the committee of the Nehanda Housing Trust, a scheme fronted by functionaries and Zanu-PF activists.
After being ousted from the trust committee, Never Kowo and Andrew Marauka ordered the demolition of houses in Dzivaresakwa recently, through the services of some youths from the ruling party.
Police dispersed the violent youths but only Kowo and Marauka were arrested while the youngsters escaped from the scene.
Kowo and Marauka have since been released.
It has emerged that vulnerable home seekers are victims of extortion, harassment and violence by land barons who have links to powerful political players.
It is the third time within a month that violence has been reported in informal residential areas.
Residents in Kingsdale, Norton also had their homes destroyed by land baron, Cuthbert Mupami.
Another housing cooperative committee member in Kuwadzana, Paradazai Masase, sustained serious injuries after unknown assailants tried to burn his house in a dispute over housing.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) denounced the violence that has seen vulnerable children affected by demolitions and evictions.
“Displacement means they cannot attend school and they are exposed to the harsh winter weather,” ZPP stated.
It said the informal settlements were a hotbed for violent conflict.
“We therefore urge government to quickly restore order in these informal settlements by removing them from the control of land barons and party functionaries especially where state land is involved.”
– CAJ News