Friday, July 08, 2005

Unheard of Murambatsvina Leniency for Sam Levy

Zimbabwe's continued criminalization of poverty continues unabated in Operation Murambatsvina. The insanity scaled to new heights Thursday when the Harare Municipality unilaterally decided to void all land sales made since 1998. By that, unverified numbers of law abiding Harare citizens were made homeless. This announcement from the Herald,

"HARARE City Council has rescinded all land sale agreements made between 1998 and this year and is now reselling the land at market rates to the same buyers, where necessary.

The prices charged in many of the agreements were a small fraction of pertaining market rates and usually well below the then cost of servicing the land.

The price reviews follow the cancellation and invalidation of various sale agreements entered from 1998 with churches, individuals and housing co-operatives.

Town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya yesterday confirmed the new development, but would not be drawn into commenting much about the issue.

"Some of the stands were not developed, but some already had buildings erected on them," he said, without elaborating further.

One such example is a piece of land sold for $189 000 in 1998 which has since been resold at $98,8 million.

"That the previous decision of council recorded under item 26 of the finance committee minutes dated 10 November 1998 to sell Stand 11331 Budiriro to Seventh Day Adventist Church at a price of $189 000 be and hereby rescinded."

I'm guessing that many if not all those affected by this price adjusting will not be able to afford living in the very homes they built. By the way, since when could a seller obliterate a legally binding contract entered into up to seven years ago?

I'm not surprised though. Before any of this ever happened, I predicted things would go down just like this. Remember this;

"The story, which chronicles impending rental increases in Harare, reveals how ZANU-PF's anti-market antics have kept them in power. Mugabe & Co. have placated the anger of the masses by effectively imposing price ceilings on a majority of the basic commodities including in rentals. As the story reports, at today's official exchange rates, there are people that are renting full housesfor a lot less than $1 a month and there's businesses occupying premium space in the city center for under $500! But that's just government controlled properties, rentals in the parallel market a lot closer to reality. Outrageous.

Don't hasten to pitch the, "it's the MDC controlled municipality that is mucking things up," fit just yet. Recall the numerous forays into local government affairs by the state culminating in the introduction and imposition of governors for the "metro provinces" of Harare and Bulawayo. ZANU is fully and undeniably culpable.

But as that prolific writer Chinua Achebe titled his most popular book, "Things Fall Apart." It's all beginning to unravel for ZANU in Zimbabwe. The curtain of reality is fast coming down on their charade as providers and patron saints of the public."
Meanwhile Mugabe was defiantly telling journalists in Libya that his cleanup operation had not made anyone homeless.

But not everyone affected by the cleanup has met the savage wrath of the operation. Controversial businessman and ZANU-PF backer, Sam Levy's business park in Borrowdale is still intact even though it was built without council approval. Again I already posted on this,

"BUSINESS tycoon Sam Levy's lavish Borrowdale office block built in the late 1990s without council approval still stands today but the same cannot be said of illegal structures in Harare's densely-populated residential areas - razed to the ground in the past two weeks.
Levy, who in October 2000 escaped with a $200 fine for importing 50 motorcycles inscribed "Police" without authority, had the knack for putting up illegal structures at his plush Sam Levy Village under the nose of partisan municipal authorities."
But city officials still want negotiate with Levy. Said Leslie Gwindi, Harare City Council's normally combative spokesperson;

"We are going to discuss the issue with him very soon. We are working towards regularising every structure and Sam Levy's building is no exception. It will be dealt with in the same manner that we dealt with other illegal structures."

No, Sam Levy's village will not suffer the same fate endured by thousands of illegal structures during the cleanup operation. It's standing, many poor people's homes and places of business are not. Sam Levy is too well connected to ZANU-PF what ensures protection for all his endeavors.

Does this enrage you enough to do something?

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