HUMAN rights lawyers have taken a significant step in securing a lasting solution to the recurring problem of arbitrary demolitions in Zimbabwe by filing an application seeking an order of declaration of constitutional invalidity of some offensive by-laws, which permit
local authorities to demolish houses without obtaining a court order as is required by the Constitution.
On Wednesday 8 February 2023, High Court Judge Justice Never Katiyo presided over the hearing of the constitutional challenge in which Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) is seeking to invalidate some offensive provisions of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act and declare them as unconstitutional.
CHITREST’s application follows a demolition order issued by Chitungwiza Municipality in the state-run Herald newspaper on 8 October 2020, wherein the local authority indicated that some residents with houses situated in specific areas of St Mary’s, Zengeza, Seke and Nyatsime suburbs in Chitungwiza had to demolish their houses for the reason that the stands on which the houses were built on and the houses, were constructed without the local
In issuing the demolition order, Chitungwiza Municipality said it was acting in terms of provisions of section 32 and 37 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.
Now, on behalf of CHITREST, Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, want the High Court to issue an order impugning section 32(2)(c) and (d) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act as well as section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.
Chinopfukutwa and Saurombe argued that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law which is inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency hence section 32(2)(c) and (d) and section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, are inconsistent with the provisions of section 74 of the Constitution.
The human rights lawyers want the High Court to issue an order declaring the said offending provisions constitutionally invalid because section 32(2)(c) and (d) as well as section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, infringe section 74 of the
Constitution, which confers a right on people against arbitrary eviction from their homes.
They also want the demolition order issued by Chitungwiza Municipality on 8 October 2020 to be declared as invalid.
Apart from Chitungwiza Municipality, CHITREST also cited Local Government and Public Works Minister Hon. July Moyo, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, as respondents in their
On Wednesday 8 February 2023, Justice Katiyo removed the matter from the court roll and indicated that it would be reinstated once lawyers furnish the court with a register of CHITREST members.