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urban housing crisis
March 08, 2013
migration increasing in Zimbabwe and urban squatter camps growing,
the shortage of affordable public housing has become a contentious
the Ministry of National Housing and Special Amenities, there are
approximately 1.2 million people on the government's national housing
waiting list, although the exact figure is not known because most
local authorities do not collect the necessary data.
of young people in the countryside completing their secondary education
each year, the country has seen an upsurge in the number of people
migrating from rural to urban areas, hoping to secure better employment
opportunities. This has been a trend dating back to the days before
the country gained its independence [in 1980]," said an official
from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, which has estimated
the waiting list number at closer to 1.25 million.
has had multiple plans to roll out public housing schemes around
the country, including a national housing policy launched in 1999,
but it has lacked the resources to keep up with rising demand.
director in the housing ministry, said the ministry invested over
US$25 million in housing development in 2012 through joint ventures
with land developers and local authorities. However, another senior
official in the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
$176.5 million was required annually to address Zimbabwe’s
public housing backlog by 2015.
2005 slum clearance programme, Operation
Murambatsvina, made over 700,000 people homeless and worsened
the country’s housing crisis. Promises to re-house those whose
shacks had been bulldozed have gone unfulfilled. Thousands are still
living in squatter camps.
director of the Harare
Residents Trust, a local NGO that advocates for Harare residents
to be represented in local governance issues, blamed the government’s
reliance on unscrupulous housing cooperatives. According to the
Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO),
these cooperatives are typically formed by a group of workers from
a single company or industry, or by people from the same geographic
location. Members pool their resources to ensure that they all benefit
in improving their living conditions.
to Shumba, housing cooperatives acquire housing stands from corrupt
city council officials at very low prices. They then build houses
and sell them at inflated prices, which buyers pay off monthly over
at least 14 years before being given title deeds.
authorities and the government of Zimbabwe have not really invested
in the provision of housing and accommodation to the citizenry,
except to relinquish this responsibility to housing cooperatives,
the majority of whom are siphoning off the little financial resources
of low-paid workers," Shumba told IRIN.
He added that
rapidly growing communities in Harare meant to accommodate low-income
earners - such as Hopely Farm, Caledonia, Hatcliff and Whitecliff,
all built by housing cooperatives - are lacking social infrastructure
such as schools, health and recreational facilities, and shopping
condition of the emerging communities is attributed to poor planning
and corruption by officials in the Housing and Community Services
Department, as well as among councillors and officials in the urban
planning and environmental management committees, where reports
abound that corrupt housing cooperative leaders have been allocated
land in some reserved open spaces where clinics, schools and shops
were meant to be put," he said.
some of the squatter camps north of Harare, where many of the people
made homeless by Operation Murambatsvina now live, politically connected
housing cooperatives are reportedly duping individuals into paying
thousands of dollars for housing stands the cooperatives do not
have title deeds to.
a 44-year-old widow with six children, from Harare's Caledonia Farm
squatter camp, said she bought her housing stand for $2,375 from
a local housing cooperative four years ago, but has not yet received
a title deed for it and, as a result, cannot get approval to build
on the land. Local police have failed to take action because of
the cooperatives’ political connections, she said.
a 48-year-old single mother from Mbare, Harare’s oldest low-income
suburb, told IRIN she has lived as a tenant for 23 years. She pays
$140 a month for the two rooms she occupies.
don't have a place to call my own home. The government has not come
to my rescue as a single mother, although I always hear there are
government houses for the poor," she said, adding that she
was placed on a government housing list several years ago.
the National Housing Policy, after registering with the government's
public housing department, homes are allocated on a rent-to-buy
basis determined by the individual's income. Twenty percent of government
houses are reserved for civil servants who are required to pay a
deposit of $3,600 for a house while non-government employees are
required to pay a deposit of $10,000.
But with unemployment
in Zimbabwe estimated at 60 percent, the Harare Residents Trust
say very few can afford the deposits to buy government houses.
not need a person from Mars to know that most Zimbabweans are self-employed
and have no fixed monthly income. And personally, I doubt if some
of us on the housing list will ever get the houses because, honestly,
where will we get the $10,000 deposit?" said Terence Mugwadi,
a tenant from Harare's Highfield low-income suburb.
who IRIN spoke to also alleged that the allocation of government
housing was done by corrupt officials. They said they had failed
to make it onto housing lists despite providing proof of their monthly
[they] demand bribes from us merely to place us on a housing list,"
said Richard Chiriga from Glenorah, a low-income suburb near Harare.
where Harare’s most recent batch of government houses was
completed, following years of construction. But according to residents
in the area, distribution of the houses has not been transparent.
In 2012, Harare
City Council signed an agreement with the Central African Building
Society (CABS) to build 3,102 more houses worth $15 million, a cost
local authorities indicated they could afford annually for similar
projects to meet the housing demand in the capital.
the agreement, the houses meant for low-income earners are to be
built over a two-year period, with four-roomed houses costing approximately
tenants like Eunice Chambati, a single mother from the city's Mabvuku-Tafara
low-income suburb, say they have lost all hope of ever acquiring
a government house.
my life now,” said Chambati. “Living as a tenant for
me is now very normal, and I have come to accept this."
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