"Illegal" Lusaka Houses

What is affected
Housing private
Land Social/public
Transportation, access to education
Type of violation Demolition/destruction
Date 10 March 2007
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Zambia
Location Lusaka

Affected persons

Total 1250
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Housing losses
- Number of homes 100
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

land mafia
Brief narrative

Zambia starts mass demolition of illegal houses

10 March 2007

By Shapi Shacinda (Reuters)

LUSAKA--Zambia has started mass demolition of illegal houses in the capital Lusaka in a move to end corruption in the distribution of land plots, a police spokesman said on Saturday.

Bonny Kapeso said police moved in to raze houses in an exercise which started late on Friday night and ended in the early hours of Saturday. The campaign is aimed at ending graft in the allocation of residential and business plots in Zambia, where opposition parties often accuse senior members of the ruling party of taking bribes from people in exchange for land.

President Levy Mwanawasa sacked Lands Minister Gladys Nyirongo two weeks ago, accusing her of handing out plots of land to her family. Several senior ministry officials were suspended on corruption charges involving land distribution. Officials say the demolitions will gradually be rolled out across Zambia, raising the prospect of millions being made homeless.

We carried out a successful operation with the (municipal council) and a number of houses were demolished. The police officers were involved in the operation in order to safeguard the security of council officers, Kapeso told Reuters.

Eyewitnesses said police using sledgehammers knocked down about 100 houses under construction in an area where some people had seized plots without official approval. Most of the houses were still under construction and not yet inhabited. We saw about 450 state police officers and policemen from the Lusaka City Council destroying houses from about midnight on Friday until the early hours of today, one resident said.

A Reuters correspondent on the scene saw debris from concrete blocks and piles of planks used for roofing. Zambia’s demolitions recall a programme undertaken in neighbouring Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe’s government, which provoked an international outcry in 2005 by destroying thousands of illegal houses. The United Nations criticised the Zimbabwe demolitions, which human rights groups said were a vendetta by Mugabe’s government against its political adversaries.

Zambia’s move comes after populist opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party leader Michael Sata, pledged during last year’s presidential elections to demolish illegal houses to pave the way for new ones. Sata lost the vote to Mwanawasa, who won his second and final year term in office. Human rights groups in Zambia have not yet reacted to the campaign, although political observers say they are likely to seek a court order to block further evictions if the demolitions are extended to other neighbourhoods.

© Reuters 2007

Costs €   0