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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles


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    Zimbabwe Parliament debate on Operation Murambatsvina (Cont'd) - Page 4
    Questions relating to Ministerial statement on Operation Murambatsvina by Minister of Local Government (I Chombo)
    Extracted from Hansard Vol. 32, No. 6
    Parliament of Zimbabwe

    June 28, 2005

    View list of 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentarians

    Jump to contributions by:
    - MR. CHIMANIKIRE
    - MR. GWETU
    - MR. MUKAHLERA
    - THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD WELFARE (DR. MUGUTI)
    - MR. CHEBUNDO
    - MR. CHAMISA
    - MINISTERIAL STATEMENT - THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHOMBO)


    MR. MUTSEKWA: According to the minister's statement, it is now obvious that the Government has been watching the mushrooming of the so called illegal structures since 1980. What then made the Government come up with un abrupt operation which did not give the affected notice of why they will be moved and where they will be moved to. Secondly, the people who are involved in the removal of the illegal structures and the people from their original places - did they receive specialist training? This is a mammoth exercise which involves the lives of people. What kind of training did these people get? Because what we have got is that the people who are responsible for this exercise has been drawn from various other sectors including the militias that have graduated from Border Gezi Training centers.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, I am actually surprised by the questioner. The persons that are affected have been given ample notice by Government and by local authorities. Some of the notices have been in writing form, meetings have been held in areas and every individual concerned knew and know that the structure they were putting up was illegal. This can be proved by the fact that in other areas, all those who have put illegal structures are demolishing them by themselves. It is incorrect to say that it was abrupt. It is also incorrect to say that the people were being displaced from their original places. Those are not original places at all. The teams involved are our local authorities plus our own law enforcement agencies. As you know that our law enforcement agents are some of the best trained law enforcement agents in Africa and have done a professional job. We commend them for the work they have done.

    MR. MZILA NDLOVU: The Minister cited hoarding of goods and foreign currency as one of the major causes of Government initiating this exercise and he has also gone further to say that this exercise has made 90 percent progress.

    My question to the Minister is whether he would say the commodities that are cited in particular, I am sure he has in mind commodities like cooking oil and fuel. Whether he is prepared to go further and say that these very commodities are now 90 percent available in Zimbabwe because of the exercise? If this does not translate to the availability of these commodities, we then can not go on to justify the exercise on the basis of accusing these people of having been responsible for the shortage of these commodities.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: I am actually getting surprised, I was reciting the litany of crimes - that hoarding was one of the crimes, general lawlessness, thuggery etc were some of the crimes that the police were looking for. Furthermore, and the most important, the structures were all illegal - built without permits, built on street pavements are areas designated for other activities.
    Secondly, people were beginning to sell their wares in front of licensed shops without appropriate hawker permits from the appropriate local authorities. So, those are the things we are saying should be stopped - it has nothing to do with whether there is sugar or no sugar but has to be sold from licensed premises. It is pure and simple. I think the gentlemen on the other side should understand such simple law and order.

    When we do not do it Mr. Speaker, they complain that we are a lawless Government and when we do it they complain that we are not instituting law and order. So, what do you want us to do? We better do that which is right, to institute law and order in this country - [MR. MZILA NDLOVU: I do not think my question have been answered, we are talking of availability of commodities…]

    MR. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Mukahlera.

    MR. MUKAHLERA: I understand that the minister has indicated that Murambatsvina is going to wind up. Does it mean that those illegal structures that have not yet been demolished are no longer going to be destroyed or maybe the next Murambatsvina will touch on the illegal structures in the rural areas? Can we expect something as drastic as this in future?

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: I said that the operation is winding up because most of the work has been done. I cited 90 percent because 90 percent of the structures have been destroyed - the remaining 10 percent will be concluded. I do not know whether there are any illegal structures in his home village because there is law and order presided by the chief sand headmen. If you are building your house in an area that is reserved for grazing or fields, the Chief should order the demolition of that house.

    MR. CHEBUNDO: My question to the Minister is by his own admission in the statement, that some of the challenges are to do with the people who are now stepping in the open. Why is it Government seems to be selective on who should assist those who are suffering? From the Minister's list and what is reportedly said outside that the Government is selecting and not allowing certain NGO's or international NGOs to assist those who are suffering. Can the minister let us know whether there is that kind of approach and why it should be allowed?
    My second question is that it is being reported that other Government ministers and Members of Parliament were not consulted when Government embarked on this programme including the Minister himself, why was it like that?

    MR. SPEAKER: Order, your second question is called off, ministers have one Government and therefore have collective responsibilities.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Hon. Chebundo is mistaken; Government will welcome anybody who come to help. Those that have come forward have been informed at the issues at hand and the helpers that he is talking about - the NGOs etc have been there since independence.

    You do not wait to develop your country on borrowed assistance from NGOs, if they can come and assist - fine. They are coming to assist - to complement Government and not to complete the Government, it is Government which should take the leadership. The NGOs and church organizations that I mentioned are the organizations that have come forward and we have held a meetings with all of them to inform them of our plans. If your church or NGO is willing to assist, it has to come and work within our structures because we can not create parallel structures in order to implement what we need to do.

    MISS STEVENSON: This operation was not budgeted for the 2005 budget, I heard you mention a figure of Z$1 trillion that has been sourced so far. I understand that you have announced that it will cost approximately Z$3 trillion to complete this exercise. I would ask you to explain to this House where this money is coming from.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: This is a Government programme which is there to restore dignity to our people, by giving them permanent shelter instead of living in shacks. This is a Government programme whose aim is to provide decent selling points to our people to any cost to Government because our people were selling from unlicensed and undesignated places - [MISS STEVENSON: Answer the question!] - When she was talking, I was quiet, I wanted to be quiet so that I can speak.

    MR. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Stevenson, you were heckling and shouting when he was responding, so I thought you had the answer.

    MR. SIKHALA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Hon. Minister. Hon. Minister, you threatened the local authority of Chitungwiza Municipality with a Commission after you quarreled with them over illegal structures that have been constructed by Mr. Chigumba on top of graves. Why did you protect those illegal squalors who had constructed their houses on top of graves in Chitungwiza Unit L?

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, the issue that he is raising is unknown to me, maybe it should be addressed to the Resident Minister of Harare Metropolitan Province who superintends the activities which are taking place on the ground on a day to day basis. So, I am unaware of Mr. Chigumba's installations and I am unaware whether they have been destroyed or not. If they are illegal, they will be destroyed.

    MR. MGUNI: My question is simple and straightforward. The Hon. Minister has talked of developments at Caledonia. All of us have got eyes and maybe the Minister could take us the Members of Parliament to go and see what is happening in Caledonia.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, I did not understand his question and could he repeat his question.

    MR. SPEAKER: He said when would you like us to go and see Caledonia Farm?

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, these guys have been taking British Member of Parliament there, they have been there before.

    MR. MGUNI: May I simplify again because I did not get his answer.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, I said these guys have already been there so many times. They are not restricted to go there. The Hon. Members have been there with their visitors to show them around, they have been to so many places. It is only today that they want to seek permission from us and I will direct the Hon. Members to see the Resident Minister, Mr. Karimanzira, who would be so glad to take them there.

    MR. CHAMISA: Mr. Speaker, in the past we have had people whose names have been appeared in the newspapers but in actual fact, have not benefited from the programmes which Government have promised them. Can the minister assure this House that indeed the names of the people who are appearing in the newspapers are the names of people who are really going to benefit from the programme and that it is not one of those political gimmicks? Can the minister also assure those people who are going to benefit and are going to be resettled that they are not going to be unceremoniously displaced because political games had been played before and people's money has been lost. What does the minister say?

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Hon. Member for such an important question. The names that did appear in the newspapers are names which already had specific stand numbers assigned to them. The individuals who appeared are those who were vetted at Caledonia Farm, who indicated their need for accommodation - either they were displaced during Murambatsvina or were on the housing waiting list. It is exactly for such persons that the Government has created this programme.

    The individuals have been invited to come to Remembrance Drive to pay Z$500 000 to indicate that they are interested in this programme. Some are doing it and we expect more to be doing in the next few weeks. I can assure the Hon. Member of Parliament that unless the individual wishes to withdraw, I do not see why they should not benefit from the stands that have been allocated to them. The majority are members of various co-operatives and names who were taken from their co-operative registers.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: I wan to find out from the Minister whether he acknowledges that for the past 25 years the Government has actually failed to keep abreast with the migration of people from rural areas to urban centers and that the infrastructure at the urban set up was only meant for a few individuals. The first question that I have for the Minister is that given the failure by the Government to come up with structures for the housing programme for the past 25 years, what gives us the leaf that the so called "Operation Garikai" is going to succeed, more so in view of the fact that the pay for your housing scheme - the flats in Dzivaresekwa and Chitungwiza are all lying idle and have not yet been completed and yet the Minister is already talking of coming up with a new programme when there are other programmes which are not yet completed.

    The other question is that he has been talking of vetting, saying that they are vetting people at Caledonia Farm. We want the Minister to tell us what he means by vetting when all those people are victims of the barbaric act by Government to remove people who are now homeless and are now at Caledonia Farm. What vetting are you talking g about? The last question is that in the past months or so, the very Minister who stands up in this House has been seen at various co-operatives, officially breaking grounds at those co-operatives when those people where building the houses. Is the Minster saying that he is now a different minister or a born again Minister when he is actually the Minister who has been commissioning all those illegal structures.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMEMT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Speaker, I will do my best to explain so that the Hon. Member may understand. First and foremost, there is no single country in the world which has built houses for all its citizens - that is a fact. Secondly, at independence, we inherited a situation whereby all the northern suburbs were white and the other suburbs near the industrial areas where for blacks. The 250 000 whites who were in this country owned 350 000 homes nationwide. The entirety of Zimbabwe owned fewer houses than the number of houses the whites owned. When this Government came into power in 1980, houses have been built at such a rate that we have so many housing units built in the last 25 years far much more than houses built in the last hundred years by our colonial masters. So, that fact ought to be known. On vetting, it is important to vet who the beneficiary is. It is critical that we vet. You read in the paper today that a lot of illegal alies were also flooding our city centers and we have to vet who the beneficiary is.

    MR. MZILA NDLOVU: Mr. Speaker, members of this side when debating were asked to resume their seats because they have nothing to say. We will also ask the same to be done to the Minister because he has nothing to say.

    MR. SPEAKER: He is answering questions, If the Hon. Member has nothing to say, I might ask him to leave the House.

    THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: About vetting, it is a necessary exercise to carry out. If the Hon. Members were complaining that the vetting is discriminating against certain community, then we would look at the issue.

    Coming to Operation Garikai/hlalanikuhle, it is to make sure that as many to our people as possible have accommodation given to them by Government. Government is going to build a core house, two rooms, a bath and a toilet. Then the individual member will then move in and build at his or her own pace. The reason we did that is simply because we do not want a member building his own house and at the time paying rent because they will have very little money left to built the house. It is Government money which is going to be used and people will be paying back slowly for about twenty to thirty years to pay back what Government is assisting them with.

    The issue of co-operatives, issuing of a cooperative certificate is not a permit to build those are two different things. The majority of cooperatives were given certificates to say that their articles of cooperation are in order by the relevant Ministry. The moment you built without your plan being approved by local authority, you are wrong. When we talk about ground breaking, the cooperatives that we went for ground breaking are the cooperatives which were in the correct.

    MR. SPEAKER: I believe that this motion will remain in the Order Paper and hope that Hon. Members who wish to debate will therefore have a chance to do so.

    THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

    Motion put and agreed to.

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