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Illegal settlements, government urged to address housing shortages
in Zimbabwe Coalition
this article on the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition website
has called for a sustainable solution to the housing crisis in urban
areas amid relentless post-election threats by the government to
illegal housing settlements that mushroomed without the sanction
of the relevant local governance authorities.
Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson Thabani Nyoni said demolitions would
not solve the problem of illegal settlements because demolitions
would not address the issue of urban housing shortages.
to understand that illegal settlements are a problem that is related
to shortages of housing and increase in urban populations,”
Nyoni said. “The problem is with policy not people.
is also related to lack of development and opportunities in rural
areas which has caused unmitigated rural to urban migration.”
In June 2005,
the Zimbabwean government carried out a similar exercise called
Murambatsvina, which saw the demolition of illegal urban settlements
countrywide, and left thousands destitute during a cold winter season.
was condemned as a violation of human rights by the United Nations
(UN) after it sent a special rapporteur Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka
to assess the repercussions.
After the Operation
Murambatsvina, and its condemnation by the international community
as an attack on the rights of the poor, government carried out a
corrective exercise called Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle to resettle
the displaced people.
Some of the
schemes have been beset with challenges, which show lack of planning
like overcrowded houses and an encroaching cemetery at the Hopley
Farm settlement, where graves have come into the shadows of houses
on the outskirts of Harare.
Harare, the Joshua Nkomo Housing Scheme started under the same operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle was built on land not serviced by council,
making it an illegal settlement.
Nyoni said the
resurgent need to demolish illegal settlements was a sign of failure
by the government of Zimbabwe to provide a sustainable solution
after the last encounter with the problem about a decade ago.
claimed they did Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle to settle people,
and address housing shortages,” Nyoni said. “This plan
is an admission that the government has failed to address the housing
is shocking though is that the government through demolishing illegal
settlements will be actually rewarding those who failed to plan,
and punishing the victims.
“We call upon the government to accept responsibility for
its failure and come up with a sustainable and humane framework
of addressing illegal settlements and the housing problem.”
the chairman of the Combined
Harare Residents Association (CHRA), said the authorities that
are planning the demolitions should have foresight about where the
displaced people will go, and must be aware of the constitutional
right of everyone, including the illegal settlers to shelter.
policy makers make these proposals they have to be cognizant of
the constitutional right to shelter that each citizen of this country
enjoys by virtue of being a Zimbabwean,” Moyo said. “It
does not matter whether one is residing in a structure deemed illegal.
to evict that person must also be able to consider where that person
is supposed to go.”
Moyo said illegal
housing structures were a result of deeper issues and part of a
structures do not suddenly crop up somewhere somehow, there is the
corrupt hand of politicians and incompetence of policy makers,”
Moyo said. “The emergence of illegal housing units is caused
by many factors ranging from corruption, absence of proper planning
and supply being overtaken by demand as well as political expedience.”
In the recent
proliferation of illegal settlements, politicians have been accused
of parceling land to supporters without councils’ approval
ahead of the
harmonized elections held in July.
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