However, the demolitions in Glen Norah did not proceed, as residents armed with axes, knobkerries and other objects faced off with police who eventually retreated. Last week, hundreds of houses in Epworth, a high-density settlement southeast of Harare, were also demolished before a high court ruling on 10 October granted residents a temporary reprieve.
A government audit of illegal structures made public in December 2013 found that more than 14,000 residential stands in and around Chitungwiza had been illegally sold by housing cooperatives, councillors and village heads, all of them with ties to Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU-PF. Much of the land where stands were illegally created for the building of homes and businesses, had been earmarked for other purposes such as for clinics, schools, cemeteries, roads and wetlands.
Following the release of the report, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Biggie Matiza was quoted in the state-owned daily, The Herald, as committing to a “well organized, humane” process in demolishing the illegal structures that would ensure all affected families were offered alternative land.