HOUSE DEMOLITIONS IN ZIMBABWE: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS PERSPECTIVE
Tinashe Stephen Chinopfukutwa1
‘We live in a society in which there are great disparities in wealth. Millions of people are living in deplorable conditions and in great poverty. There is a high level of unemployment, inadequate social security, and many do not have access to clean water or to adequate health services. These conditions already existed when the Constitution was adopted and a commitment to address them, and to transform our society into one in which there will be human dignity, freedom and equality, lies at the heart of our new constitutional order. For as long as these conditions continue to exist that aspiration will have a hollow ring.’2
Since 2015 local authorities, particularly in Harare and Chitungwiza have embarked on a spree of house demolitions. The local authorities have contended that the demolished houses were built “illegally” either on land that was reserved for other purposes or without the necessary procedures having been adopted. The Constitution of Zimbabwe3 has a number of provisions against arbitrary eviction, and provision of adequate shelter as well as the standards against which administrative decisions and conduct is to be measured. The following paper will therefore investigate if the ongoing demolitions pass the human rights standards imposed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as international human rights law.
1 Part IV law student at the University of Zimbabwe with special interest in Constitutional Law, Human Rights law, International Law and Labour Law
2 Chaskalson P F in Soobramoney v Minister of Health KwaZulu-Natal 1998(1) SA 765 (CC) at 24H.
3 Amendment No.20 of 2013
4 Section 2 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe