Musician Clive Malunga’s Jenaguru Arts Centre in Harare was demolished on Wednesday as part of the city council’s campaign to do away with all illegal structures in the capital.
Malunga’s arts centre is reported to have encroached into another person’s property without the knowledge of the council, as well as that of the owner.
In an interview, Malunga said he was renting the other part, which was demolished, from the council and all the paperwork was in order. He narrated how he acquired the land until the recent dispute with the council which led to the demolitions.
“What happened is that in 1995 that is when I acquired the place and I moved to the arts centre,” he said. “I and Zimdef were the first to be at that area. When I was given the land there, the other part was occupied by street kids and I requested to maintain the yard and the council agreed and all this is in writing.
“I then applied for the land and they refused, saying it was earmarked for a technical college. When I heard that there was no longer a technical college to be built, and applied for the lease, they said they will consider the application.”
Malunga said five months ago he was served with an eviction order to move out of the other part of Jenaguru Arts Centre within two days.
He said when the issue of council officials illegally parcelling out land was exposed, they went quiet and recently they wrote him another letter saying the land had been bought by someone, so he must move out.
“I then asked them why they did not consider me as I was on the waiting list,” said Malunga. “Last week on Friday, a person from the council approached me saying I must vacate the place or else it will be demolished. They requested me to sign a document alleged to be an eviction order and I signed it. They then ordered me to vacate the place and I refused and told them that I was supposed to be considered as well.
“On Tuesday, the person phoned me in the evening saying that if I had not vacated the place they were coming to demolish my property and I told them to come as I was not going to vacate the place.”
The Zanu PF Youth League blamed the MDC-Alliance-led council for the predicament the residents find themselves in.
Acting deputy secretary for youth affairs Cde Tendai Chirau said the league sympathised with the residents of Budiriro who earlier this week had their houses demolished by the city council on the basis of a court order obtained at the instigation of a meeting of the councillors.
“It must be noted from the outset that our commiseration with these unfortunate victims is not in any way an endorsement of illegal settlements or the illegal activities of land barons who under the slumber of Harare City Council have been allowed to run amok while city fathers make rich pickings,” he said.
“It has been exposed by the New Dispensation how councillors working in cahoots and under instruction from senior leaders of the MDC-Alliance have illegally parcelled out land to their business allies and cronies.
Meanwhile, houses in wards 4 and 5 in
Chitungwiza were destroyed by heavy rains and winds this week.
Chitungwiza mayor Lovemore Maiko yesterday said the disaster also affected some of the council’s employees.
Zanu PF Ward 4 councillor Reginald Mashingaidze said roofs were blown off and houses were filled with water, destroying some of the properties.
An affected Ward 5 resident, Catherine Arumando said people were left stranded following the heavy rains and strong winds.
“We are about 50 people who have been affected here and the situation is dire,” she said. “We are kindly appealing for blankets and food as most people are stranded.”