via Who will resolve housing issues? – DailyNews Live by Helen Kadirire 11 MAY 2014
The issue of housing for all continues to be a pipeline dream for Zimbabwean citizens —34 years after attaining Independence.
Housing schemes across the country have been involved in various court cases with some being sued for promising a Utopian dream that later does not come true.
Council housing schemes have been hogging the limelight with allegations of fraud and corruption.
Cooperatives like the one spearheaded by musician Energy Mutodi have been hauled before the courts for duping desperate civil servants seeking houses across the country.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself and of his family, including housing among other things.
However, in the past 15 years, that right has been ignored by demolitions and arbitrary illegal repossessions of houses in high density suburbs.
Social activist and Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Precious Shumba told the Daily News on Sunday that government has failed to allocate sufficient resources to progressively realise the right of citizens to housing.
“The solution lies in the State accepting its shortcomings and helping stakeholders to identify key areas of need so that housing delivery is a collective responsibility of business, civil society, industry and themselves. Housing should not be politicised but should be regarded as a human right,” he said.
Shumba’s sentiments come at a time when some Mbare residents being evicted from their homes claim they are being targeted for political reasons.
He also emphasised that housing cooperatives have also failed to close the gap, owing to massive corruption .
He highlighted that within most old residential suburbs, there is a menace of unemployed political hooligans who terrorise people while being protected by identified political leaders.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a 1,3 million-unit backlog in housing and this has resulted in citizens living in overcrowded conditions where they have no access to potable water, electricity and sanitary facilities.
Harare alone constitutes more than half of the backlog with at least 500 000 houses needed to accommodate the ever growing population.
Last year, Harare City Council councillor Allan Markham highlighted that greater Harare which includes Norton, Ruwa, Epworth and Chitungwiza has a population of over four million people.
Markham said if you take that against the most recent national population census, 1 in 3 Zimbabweans stays in greater Harare.
Ultimately, he said, Harare is supporting this population and also has the burden of having to fund it.
Another councillor Enock Mupamawonde said the issue of overpopulation in Harare was symptomatic of a greater and deeper problem.
Mupamawonde said there is need to decongest cities by way of influencing policies and putting up structures such as Highglen and Westgate shopping centres in all towns.
“There is no need for people to come to Harare when all the services can be obtained from places like Highglen, the same for Norton and Ruwa. However, right now they cannot get all those services there hence they flock to Harare.”
HCC deputy mayor Thomas Muzuwa said council has been allocated more than 27 farms stretching all the way to Mazowe in order to accommodate the growing population of the city.
With a population that is estimated to top five million by 2025, Muzuwa said the farms will not be the only assistance to control the growing population.
“We are intending on developing the Kunzvi, Musami and Muda dams to cater for the population, we have over 27 farms given to the HCC by central government and with those three dams we have to expand the city. Twenty-five farms are stretching to Mazowe Dam, so housing will not be a problem,” Muzuwa indicated.
HCC has various housing projects across the city among them a CABS deal that will see the construction of more than 3 000 houses being built in Budiriro.
Other housing projects according to Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi include the George Stark flats that will provide 288 units which comprise 72 units per flat.
Council has since pledged to construct 30 000 housing units in the next five years.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has since signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese firm, Henan Guoji, to build 10 000 low-cost houses.
Chombo said Henan Guoji will finance the building of the houses and work with a local bank which China has interests in to provide mortgage for those houses.
The project, he said, will aim to address the backlog with houses being built in Harare and a few other cities.
Deputy director of Cooperate, Housing and Community services with HCC, James Chiyangwa said pronouncements by agencies such as the United Nations Habitat are now making the issue of housing a human rights affair.
He said since the review date of the Millennium Development Goals is in 2015, our government has set targets for government and local authorities to produce not less than 200 000 housing units annually.
“We will try to match that. We have partners such as CABS and other company-assisted schemes that have come on board. Currently in Harare, council-run housing cooperatives have 9 000 people who have been issued with residential stands”
“We also have other partners like the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation which has built for us 483 houses,” Chiyangwa said.
He said certain problems like water and off-site infrastructure were a problem, however, council was working on alleviating the problems.