Mbare hostels face demolition to pave way for the construction of civilised dwellings, leaving more than 56 000 poor people homeless.
The strongest hint so far from Government has put paid to attempts to refurbish the 58 dilapidated, filthy and congested hostels that include, Matapi, Nenyere, Shawasha, Mbare and Matererini.
Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo said no one should ever think the hostels built to house black migrant labour during the colonial era would be there forever.
He did not give a timeline for demolition and construction of the new flats. Government and council sources say some affected people will be temporarily accommodated at nearby farms during the period new flats will be under construction.
Minister Chombo said the demolition was part of an urban renewal programme that has seen the construction of the Tagarika Flats in the same suburb.
"The hostels would be demolished. They cannot be there forever," he said.
Minister Chombo said previous attempts to renovate the hostels had failed because people tried to normalise the abnormal.
"Upgrading the hostels is abnormal because they were built abnormally. We need to civilise that place," he said.
Minister Chombo accused the city of complacency in collecting rentals from the hostel tenants following revelations that council was only getting 5 percent of the funds due to it.
Some of these people who sublet the rooms pocket over US$200 per month, while the city gets about US$5.
"There are people getting rich and buying vehicles from collecting money that is meant for council," he said.
However, a Harare City Council official on Monday said the city had plans for the hostels that were yet to be tabled to Government.
The source said council had plans to revamp the hostels and have apartments with two bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchen and a toilet.
"We have a decamping programme where we will build flats first before demolition starts.
"Some families will be moved into those new flats. Those who do not qualify will be accommodated elsewhere as we seek alternative accommodation for them.
"The minister is yet to be advised on this new programme," said the official.
Minister Chombo has previously labelled attempts by Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda to invest US$5 million into the refurbishment of the hostels as "preposterous and insane".
Refurbishment and conversion of the flats into family units would result in 90 percent of the inhabitants becoming homeless and in need of new accommodation in the city.
Minister Chombo suggested that council should build permanent houses for the hostel dwellers. The hostels were built in the 1940s to house black migrant labour. The one-roomed hostels accommodated male workers only.
Using US$5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Masunda was lobbying for the refurbishment of the hostels.
The attempts received resistance from the Mbare community, leading to relocation of the project to Dzivaresekwa.
But the city has maintained its desire to refurbish the hostels.