Arlington Estate Demolitions: Government Throws Trigger - Happy Tafadzwa Muguti Under The Bus

The Government has dismissed Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution secretary Tafadzwa Muguti’s threats to demolish all the houses built in Arlington Estate, a fresh medium density suburb near the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

Arlington Estate residents had also given a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw his threat to demolish their homes built on land they say was bought from Government and with approval from the City of Harare, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and other key stakeholders.

Muguti, who earlier on was quoted in the State-owned media saying the houses were constructed in a red zone and must be demolished, has also been forced to make a climb down after National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said Government was not considering demolishing the homes.

Garwe further said that as far as the central Government was concerned, there would not be any demolitions as President Mnangagwa last year promised urbanites title deeds, especially those settled on land previously considered inappropriate.

“As far as we are concerned, no house will be demolished and any communication to the contrary is misleading. Indeed, anything contrary to that is fake news. That houses in Arlington Estate will be demolished was not the correct position,” said Garwe, in a report by the Herald.

Garwe added that no houses except in extreme circumstances will be demolished as the “Second Republic is committed to seeing people with requisite shelter”.

After Garwe’s statement, Muguti, who last week shut down private schools in Harare, made an embarrassing climb down on his earlier threats.

Muguti said the Arlington development should never have been allowed and said “corners were cut in the old dispensation” resulting in houses being constructed in the red zone.

“I would like to set the record straight that we will not be demolishing existing structures that you see in Arlington Estate,” said Muguti.

“However, should Arlington Estate continue to be hard-headed and not cooperate with authorities, the provincial Government structures, cooperating with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and cooperating with the Airports Company of Zimbabwe, then it still remains the point that should they proceed with the development of Phase 2, which they have already been notified of, then those houses would likely be demolished.

“On the Retreat side, there are people who had been wearing party regalia, some of them forming fake cooperatives, running around pegging stands with their feet literally, and selling those stands.

“We have since dispatched people there and those residents of Retreat chased away Government officials with stones, so we have taken a bold stance and a position that all illegal housing developments within the red zone of the airport should be removed.

“This is a no-go area and we will not accept anyone who makes themselves a local authority and parcel out land.

“To those people who are so desperate that you are now going to build your house within the fence of an airport, you should go and get your money back because we are not going to compromise the Civil Aviation Act, we are not going to compromise national security, we are not going to compromise the safety of the aviation industry, because you have decided to break the law,” said Muguti.

While Muguti insists corners were cut in the acquisition of land on Arlington Estate, one of the property developers in Arlington Estate, Eddie Charangwa, dismissed the accusations.

Charangwa, who is also the business development and marketing manager of Leengate, said the company developed properties in strict compliance with the law.

“The development by Leengate at the Corner of Harare Drive and Twentydales Road is being implemented in accordance with laws and by-laws of the country and is in full compliance with all regulatory bodies and has never been a contested issue.

“As Leengate, we bought the land directly from Ministry of Local Government and was issued with title deeds. We subsequently applied for and were issued with a development subdivision permit by the City of Harare.

“In addition, we were issued a consent letter by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. The development also has an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate from the Environment Management Authority (EMA). Roads, water, and sewer approvals were done by the City of Harare.

“Leengate followed all the laid down procedures and protocols which are in line with land acquisition and development and is in possession of all necessary documents mentioned above,” said Charangwa.

Meanwhile, Arlington Estate homeowners, fearing that Muguti would unleash demolition teams on their properties as per his promise, engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to fight their case.

The residents argued that the construction of the houses was done in accordance with the law. The Arlington Estate homeowners said Muguti should retract his statement within 48 hours or risk being dragged to court.
Arlington Estate Demolitions: Government Throws Trigger - Happy Tafadzwa Muguti Under The Bus
Arlington Estate Demolitions: Government Throws Trigger - Happy Tafadzwa Muguti Under The Bus
“All the necessary inspections were done and approved by the Local Planning Authority which in this instance is the City of Harare,” said the ZLHR lawyers.

“Our clients obtained title deeds to their respective properties in Arlington Estate and as a consequence of the foregoing, the said properties belonging to our clients are private properties protected from compulsory deprivation through demolitions or otherwise.

“In terms of section 71 of the Constitution, no person may be compulsorily deprived of their property. It is our considered view, therefore, that your intended demolitions constitute a violation of your clients’ property rights as provided for in terms of section 71 of the Constitution.”

“In light of the foregoing, our clients, therefore, take the utterances that were attributed to yourself in The Herald newspaper seriously and have instructed us to demand as we hereby do that you, within 48 hours of your receipt of this letter, give us your written undertaking that you are not going to proceed with the said demolitions as per your statements and utterances.”

Last year, Muguti was barred by High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore from demolishing informal traders’ structures in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Last week, he acted on his 48-hour ultimatum on unlicensed and unregistered schools in Harare shutting down 66 of them in two days and sending exam preparations of thousands of pupils in disarray.

With public schools inadequate to meet a booming population and Government having built very schools since it was hit by western sanctions in 2001, many have relied on private schools to earn an education.

Critics say Muguti must aim for encouraging regularisation of unlicensed schools instead of shutting them down because it is Government that has failed to build adequate education facilities.
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