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Harare Residents Association Condemn Forced Evictions

The Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF), representing ten Residents Associations in the Harare Metropolitan Province, has condemned the recent wave of forced evictions in both rural and urban areas arguing that these actions violate both domestic and international human rights principles.

In a statement released Thursday, HAMREF expressed solidarity with the government’s efforts to combat land grabs and illegal land sales, however, they strongly disagree with the methods employed.

“While we are in tandem with the government in the fight against land grabs and illegal land sales both in communal and urban areas, we disagree with the manner which the government is implementing to resolve the issue. We affirm that any decision to initiate an eviction, the government must have demonstrated that these evictions are unavoidable and consistent with international human rights commitments. The fundamental obligation of Government is to protect and improve houses and neighborhoods, rather than damage or destroy them,” read the statement

The forum highlighted the importance of procedural safeguards before and after evictions to prevent further human rights violations.

“Conducting evictions or demolitions in haste without considering procedural safeguards has a potential to create a serious humanitarian catastrophe just like the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina which left 700 000 people homeless.

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“Furthermore, all those evicted, irrespective of whether they hold title to their property, should be entitled to compensation for the loss, salvage and transport of their properties affected, including the original dwelling and land lost or damaged in the process.

“We are deeply concerned that these forced evictions are mainly targeting the beneficiaries of the land while exonerating the powerful politically connected land barons and corrupt officials who “illegally” sold or parceled out land to these victims,” said the Forum

HAMREF implored the government to halt the evictions and arrest those illegally selling land.

“We recommend that government shelves the forced evictions, arrest the land barons first and corrupt public officials who are and were involved in the illegal land sales. The President of the Republic should use the same powers he has over communal and urban land to improve access to housing and promote the right to shelter, and put local government on the legislative agenda for the next session of Parliament,” said HAMREF

The forum concluded by calling upon all political parties to refrain from exploiting land issues for political gain and urged swift action to address the root causes of the crisis.

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