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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
ZIMBABWE: Govt extends deadline for floundering reconstruction programme
September 05, 2005
JOHANNESBURG - The
Zimbabwe government has extended the deadline for the completion of its
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Stay Well) housing programme to December,
due to the slow pace of construction.
Acting information minister Chen Chimutengwende told IRIN the extension
beyond the original 31 August deadline had been necessitated by building
delays due to shortages of fuel and construction materials.
"Government has extended the programme to ensure that all work is done
by the end of the year. We cannot fail to meet the new target," said Chimutengwende.
In July the government announced it had allocated Zim $3 trillion (US
$120 million) to the reconstruction programme, the successor to Operation
Murambatsvina ('Drive out Filth'), a slum demolition drive the United
Nations estimated had affected over 700,000 people.
In a mid-term policy review statement in August, Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa cut the government's commitment to $1 trillion ($40 million) for
housing construction and assisting small- and medium-scale enterprises
- half of which would be raised through the financial market.
But, Chimutengwende insisted, "Enough money has been allocated to keep
the programme running, even with problems like the shortage of fuel and
Progress has been painfully slow across the country, with reports that
only 97 of the 10,000 housing units planned for the Whitecliffe settlement
in the capital, Harare, have been built.
Less than 400 housing units were under construction in the Harare suburb
of Hatcliffe, where a total of 15,000 units are planned. In Manicaland
province in the east, less than 100 houses have been completed out of
the 960 earmarked for the current construction phase. The programme was
reportedly inching along in Bulawayo and Gwanda in the south, and Victoria
Falls in the west of the country.
Besides the delays it has emerged that the majority of people affected
by the demolition programme may not meet the criteria for ownership of
the new houses.
Gwanda mayor Thandeko Mnkandla said the programme was no longer specific
to the poor and vulnerable, who make up the majority of the squatters
evicted by Operation Murambatsvina.
"The government has effectively handed over the allocation of the stands
to municipal authorities. To qualify, one has to earn above a specified
salary category, be on the municipal [housing] waiting list and be able
to afford the deposit and monthly installments," Mnkandla told IRIN.
"Many people who were affected are squatters who have never been employed
- they cannot afford any of the requirements. The houses will only be
available to the gainfully employed, and one has to be well paid to afford
the installments," he explained.
Chimutengwende countered that it was up to the responsible authorities
to define the allocation criteria.
"To require that people meet certain criteria does not necessarily mean
they remain out," he maintained. "Government knows those who were affected
and will help them accordingly, in conjunction with local authorities.
This programme was planned two years ago, and it is people-specific."
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