Zimbabwe homeowners to pay hefty fines: report

Harare (dpa) - Residents of the Zimbabwe capital Harare will have to pay hefty fines to save "illegal structures" from demolition when a controversial government clean-up campaign resumes later this month, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Residents of Harare's high-income suburbs will have to pay fines equivalent to more than 2,000 U.S. dollars (23 million Zimbabwe dollars) to "regularize" buildings on their properties that were built without permission from the city council, the state-controlled Herald reported.

"The money is like a fine to people who built illegal structures that were not approved at their premises," a city council official told the paper.

On Monday, residents of Harare's wealthier suburbs were given 10 days to get approval for structures on their properties after the government temporarily halted Operation Restore Order, a controversial campaign that has seen houses, shacks and backyard cottages destroyed in poorer suburbs of Zimbabwe's towns and cities.

The programme, launched two months ago, has received widespread condemnation.

Human rights groups say at least 300,000 people have been made homeless by the drive, which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says is aimed at driving its urban supporters into rural areas that are dominated by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Trudy Stevenson said Wednesday residents of the low-income Harare suburb of Hatcliffe Extension who had their houses demolished at the height of the Operation Restore Order have been reallocated plots of land in the same area by the government.

"How will they transport all their furniture and belongings and families back to Hatcliffe Extension?" the lawmaker for Harare North asked. "And how will they all find out about this, when some have... (been) chased back to their rural areas by the police?" dpa rt ds


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