Buhera demolitions


June 30, 2014

Destruction of homes in Denhere village, Buhera Central

A fierce boundary wrangle among villagers in Buhera Central left over 300 people in Denhere Village homeless last Thursday after their homes were razed down by police and a Deputy Sheriff from Chivhu.

The law enforcement agents were reportedly armed with a High Court order which gave them the powers to evict the villagers whom they accused of being illegally settled in the disputed area.

The victims, from Mafusire area in Ward 22 of Buhera Central, said they had a long standing boundary dispute with a nearby headman only identified as Marambanyika.

According to headman Kotsanai Denhere, 28 homesteads were destroyed while more than 20 others quickly destroyed their houses to avoid losing their household properties and food.

Villagers said more than 100 schoolgoing children had since dropped out of school after the incident.

Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) yesterday visited the affected villagers and urged them to take legal action.

"This is very wrong and none of them should go. We have never seen such a thing like this in this country* [sic] and a headman has no mandate to evict people," Chinotimba said.

The combative former war veteran said he would soon engage Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to stop the evictions.

Denhere, who claims to have settled in the area in 1965, said his subjects had been reduced to paupers after they were left without food and clothing.

"We are going through a very painful period. We have nowhere to sleep and when they burnt down our houses they also destroyed our food and clothes. We have nothing to eat and because of the situation our children have stopped going to school," Denhere said.

One of the victims, 64-year-old Pineti Toriro said he was worried over the welfare of the children caught up in the fight.

"This is winter and imagine sleeping in the open with minor children," Toriro said.

ZimRights regional council chairperson Passmore Nyakureba described the demolitions as inhuman.

Nyakureba said the eviction order was targeted at only 14 homesteads.

"This is a case which calls for urgent police investigations to see what powers gave those people to act in a manner that they did," Nyakureba said. "This is terrible abuse of power and it has to be condemned in the strongest terms. What is shocking and appalling is that the Deputy Sheriff was assisted by armed police officers in burning down the homesteads of innocent citizens who at no point had attempted to resist."


*During mid-winter 2005, without warning, the Zimbabwe government initiated a brutal campaign go forcibly bulldoze and destroy homes in cities and towns across the country.  Under the guise of a slum-clearance programme, Operation Murambatsvina [“Operation clean out the filth” or “Drive out the trash”] was widely viewed as a campaign to drive out and make homeless large sections of the urban and rural poor who comprise much of the internal opposition to the Mugabe administration.

It is estimated that some 700,000 people in cities across the country lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both.  Indirectly, a further 2.4 million people were affected in varying degrees. Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children were made homeless, without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care. Education for thousands of school age children was disrupted. Many of the sick, including those with HIV and AIDS, no longer had access to care. The vast majority of those directly and indirectly affected were the poor and disadvantaged segments of the population.

Information extracted from UN Habitat report: