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hands over incomplete houses to clean-up victims
December 23, 2005
CHINHOYI - The Zimbabwe
government on Monday handed over incomplete houses to homeless families
in the farming town of Chinhoyi before ironically accusing the United
Nations (UN) the following day of wanting to build sub-standard houses
for hundreds of other shelter-less Zimbabweans.
The more than 100
Chinhoyi families were left without homes or means of livelihood after
the government destroyed their shantytown homes and informal business
kiosks in a controversial urban clean-up campaign that the UN said left
at least 700 000 Zimbabweans on the streets without income or shelter.
President Robert Mugabe's
government, bowing to unusually harsh and severe criticism from the UN
and from Western governments, local and international human rights groups,
promised in July to build better houses for people displaced by the urban
But the Executive
Mayor of Chinhoyi, lying 120km north-west of Harare, Ray Kapesa told some
of the displaced families during a ceremony to hand over the incomplete
houses to them that they would have to finish building the houses on their
own because the government was broke.
"As you all know that
this programme had no resources, we are appealing to you to accept these
houses as they are. Those who can afford to finish off the houses should
please do so as a matter of urgency," said Kapesa.
The admission by Kapesa,
a senior member of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, that the government
did not have money to build houses for people whose homes it demolished
is the first time a senior official of either the government or ZANU PF
has publicly conceded that the government does not have money to build
homes for all the displaced families.
had warned that the Harare government was taking up more than it could
handle by launching the home building programme codenamed "Operation Garikayi"
when it was already hard pressed for cash to buy critically needed fuel,
food, electricity and several other basic survival commodities in short
supply in the country.
The UN, which called
Mugabe's urban renewal campaign a violation of human rights and internal
law in a harshly worded report last August, has offered to mobilise food
aid and to provide temporary accommodation for victims of the clean-up
But the Harare government
has accepted the food only and rejected the tents the UN was offering
as temporary shelter, with Mugabe telling the world body's envoy, Jan
Egeland, that "Zimbabweans were not tent people".
And on Tuesday this
week, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo publicly castigated the
UN - which has now agreed to help build temporary brick and asbestos houses
for displaced Zimbabweans - of designing a sub-standard house model because
the world body looks down upon Africans.
Chombo, who called
the semi-permanent house model an insult to Africans, vowed that the Harare
government would not accept it, saying the UN should instead build permanent
houses of at least two rooms each.
But UNDP resident
representative in Zimbabwe and the world body's humanitarian co-ordinator
in the southern African nation, Agostinho Aquarius, dismissed Chombo's
claims as insincere. Addressing journalists in Harare a day after Chombo's
public outbursts, the UN co-ordinator said the house model that the Local
Government Minister was crying foul about was in fact designed by UN and
The UN has had an
uneasy relationship with Harare, with Mugabe accusing the world body of
allowing itself to be used by powerful Western nations out to punish his
government for seizing land from whites and giving it over to landless
The world body denies
Western influence and says its criticism against Mugabe's policies are
out of legitimate concern for ordinary Zimbabweans without food, jobs
and shelter after five years of acute economic recession. - ZimOnline
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