ZANU PF hijacks Murambatsvina housing scheme
By Alex Bell
07 June 2011
ZANU PF has hijacked a housing scheme in Bulawayo meant to benefit victims of Murambatsvina, with people being forced to register as party members in order to keep their stands.
The Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Housing Scheme was launched nationwide by the government in 2005, as a result of international condemnation of Operation Murambatsvina. The Operation saw ZANU PF demolish thousands of what it called ‘illegal slums’ in all urban centres, leaving an estimated 700,000 people homeless.
The Housing Scheme was supposed to give these victims preferential access to new homes. But according to SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, the homes of victims in Cowdray Park Township are being repossessed.
“The local treasurer of the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Housing Scheme, Clara Gwekwerere, who is also a ZANU PF member, is telling people that they must register as ZANU PF members and produce party cards to get houses,” Saungweme explained, adding; “The whole process has been hijacked.”
He continued, that Gwekwerere is being supported by a security officer identified only as Sibanda, who is a serving member of the Zimbabwe National Army. He said the pair, together with the Housing Scheme’s Vice Secretary Mr J Khumalo and some police members, has also blocked residents from holding any meetings about the housing programme.
“This behaviour by serving members of the police, army and Clara Gwekwerere, together with the collaboration of ministry officials based at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, proves that the government is bent on changing the demography of urban areas,” Saungweme said, explaining that ZANU PF has failed to get support in Zimbabwe’s urban areas.
Saungweme said the Cowdray Park Murambatsvina victims are being left in a desperate situation. He explained that most of the victims have been trying to make a living by selling goods at markets stalls. But with no proof that they are resident in the area, they are legally not allowed to trade.
The Housing Scheme has already been the subject of much concern, with most of the houses being hurriedly built as empty shells, with no proper facilities. Last week National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mutsekwa told parliament that cabinet had already approved a plan to hand over the scheme to local authorities, in order for the residents to get water and sewer services.
“Regrettably we have got a situation in the country where the houses constructed during Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle exist with no infrastructure or amenities,” said Mutsekwa.
He added; “Cabinet has approved and adopted these houses that fall under this particular scheme be handed over to local authorities who are going to take over this infrastructure so that the inhabitants of these houses also live a normal urban life just like any other person.”
Meanwhile a local chairman in Zvishavane in the Midlands province has raised concerns that the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Housing Scheme there is being taken advantage of. Chairman Alluwis Zhou told NewsDay last month that “army officials who were in charge and their relatives had access to the houses,” and not any local residents.