ZANU-PF preys on home seekers

Source: ZANU-PF preys on home seekers | The Financial Gazette June 30, 2016

Andrew Kunambura & Kenneth Matimaire

ZANU-PF is stealthily pouncing on hapless home seekers residing in squalid conditions on the fringes of the country’s urban areas, the Financial Gazette can report.
The ruling party is, for instance, using the eastern border city of Mutare’s desperate housing situation as a campaign pedestal ahead of the 2018 elections.
Mutare’s Gimboki and Federation slums, where more than 10 000 residents have set up home, were controversially added onto Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency during the June 2015 by-elections, despite having been long condemned as ticking health hazards because of their critical lack of amenities such as water and sewer reticulation systems.
Residents of the area draw water from unprotected wells and streams; and they defecate in the open.
Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also the ZANU-PF national political commissar, has since earmarked the areas for regularisation, using the model of Harare’s Caledonia, arguably Zimbabwe’s largest slum settlement east of the capital, where over 100 000 people reside.
The regularisation of Gimboki, Federation and Caledonia is being implemented through the Urban Development Corporation (UDCORP), which was formed specifically to regularise the numerous slums that have sprung up on the peripheries of Zimbabwe’s urban areas.
But critics are viewing the move as a populist stunt aimed at buying the urban vote for the ruling party ahead of the potentially explosive 2018 general elections.
After thousands of desperate home seekers were swindled of their hard-earned money by housing consortiums, ZANU-PF has seen an opportunity in the people’s desperation to gain political mileage.
So far, the ruling party has made some inroads in Gimboki and Federation after the two areas recorded the highest number of voters in favour of the ruling party’s Esau Mupfumi who won the June 2015 by-election for Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency.
Realising how critical the area could be in him retaining the seat in 2018, Mupfumi has since taken it upon himself to lead the initiative to regularise the slums.
He recently bused dozens of Mutare residents to Caledonia ostensibly for them to appreciate the work being done by UDCORP.
Meanwhile, desperate residents, who are part of Mutare’s 50 000 home seekers on the city’s housing waiting list, are also reportedly being threatened with eviction if they do not show active support for ZANU-PF.
Kasukuwere recently visited Mutare’s slum settlements accompanied by Mupfumi, interim ZANU-PF Manicaland provincial chairman, Samuel Undenge, and deputy Mutare mayor, Collen Mukwanda, and promised manna for the residents as a token of appreciation for their decisive vote during last year’s by-election.
“I have heard the challenges that you (Gimboki and Federation) have. The issue of water and electricity is the main challenge. I will ensure that by end of this year these issues will be at an advanced stage. You have been instrumental in our victory and it is our party’s principle to reward all those who are loyal to the party during elections.
“The issue of corruption and double allocation of stands, don’t worry. UDCORP will deal with that. This is why we brought them in because cooperatives were stealing from residents,” he said responding to issues raised by Mupfumi — the constituency legislator.
Mupfumi indicated that the funds to construct a bigger water pipeline were corruptly embezzled and appealed to Kasukuwere to guard against any future shortcomings at the local authority, which was responsible for the project.
“Government had initially disbursed funds to erect a water pipeline to Dangamvura; but the project was abandoned midway after funds were embezzled by the previous council administration. With your indulgence Minister, we do not wish to see a replica of such incidence of corruption. Gimboki, Federation and other parts of Dangamvura should be having water as we speak, but that is not the case, so we want our residents to have water and electricity,” said Mupfumi.
Kasukuwere warned residents not to dump the ruling party in the next election as it will scuttle plans currently underway.
“You were facing problems before because (in 2008) you voted for the wrong person. You voted for (former MDC-T MP Arnold) Tsunga. But you later corrected this during the by-elections and we are happy with that, but we still have very few councillors at the local authority. We want you to make sure that all the councillors are from ZANU-PF in 2018. This makes it easier for us to help you in matters of housing.
“We will allocate stands to all, we know of people in other areas such as the NHB in Sakubva where two families are living in one-roomed houses that were built during the (Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian) Smith regime. We will do away with that set up. We want decent standards of living that are in tandem with our traditional norms and values,” said Kasukuwere indicating that ZANU-PF will also dish out stands to youths in the province.
While most home seekers have been overwhelmed by the promises of finally owning a residential stand, many are not in a position to pay for the units owing to the harsh economic environment exacerbated by high unemployment levels.
While the residents have been promised manna from Heaven, the Financial Gazette gathered that UDCORP has indicated that Gimboki residents alone are expected to fork out a whopping US$24 million to have their stands serviced by a government-approved contractor.
This amount is over and above the millions they were fleeced by land barons.
The residents have appealed to government to assist them recover their money from the consortiums as they had no other means to pay the expected additional amount.
“We are happy with the assurance we got from our MP (Mupfumi) and the Minister (Kasukuwere), but that is not our only challenge. As you are aware we were swindled huge sums of money by the previous consortiums and now we are expected to pay more. Where are we going to get any more money in this economic environment?” asked Peter Muza, a Gimboki resident.
“We do appreciate what has now been done, but I also think it’s best if the Minister assisted us to recover our money from the consortiums that we were working with before and use that money to service our stands,” said another resident, Thomas Mandaza.
Several other hapless residents shared the same sentiments.
In 2010, Mutare Municipality signed an agreement with the Mutare Housing Consortium in which the consortium was to service close to 5 500 stands in Gimboki.
The consortium approached a private developer, Dreamoss Investments to service the area, but the project was derailed by corruption.
The beneficiaries were drawn from National Housing Development Trust, Mutare Private Companies, Mutare Housing Development Union, Zimbabwe National Army, National Railways of Zimbabwe and CMED (Private) Limited.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    Roberta Mugarbage 6 years ago

    We will do away with that set up. We want decent standards of living that are in tandem with our traditional norms and values,”
    At “African traditional norms and values”, we think of something like “murambadvina”, “gukurahundi” and “All wealth should go to the chief.”

    So clear the slums, build a great mansion for the local ZANU boss, and then stop the project for lack of funding.