New Zimbabwe (London)

4 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Chombo Orders Harare Murambatsvina

ANOTHER clean up or Murambatsvina is in the offing after local government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered local authorities to remove illegal structures in Harare and its surrounding environs.

Officially opening houses constructed by a local property developer, Chombo said illegal structures scattered all over the capital were an eye sore that should be removed.

"Let me hasten to say that the aforementioned state of affairs is unacceptable and should therefore be avoided and respective local authorities are urged to implement corrective measures as a matter of urgency," he said.

"As much as we have a huge housing backlog to attend to, ladies and gentlemen, let me underscore the point that as government we are not desperate to the extent of condoning illegal activities in the housing delivery sector," said Chombo.

The announcement could immediately trigger memories of the 2005 government led clean-up campaign across the country which left thousands of Zimbabwe's homeless.

"We have witnessed the emergence of unplanned settlements in and around Harare in the recent past.

"We have also seen scenarios where property developers allocate stands to unsuspecting home seekers on sites without the appropriate on and offsite infrastructure," he said.

The clean-up programme was widely condemned by international human rights groups including the United Nations which stated in their final h reports that almost a million people were left homeless across the country.

"Further, some individuals are breaching construction statutes when they develop stands up to completion of their houses without any inspections done by respective local authorities to ensure that building optimum standards are adhere to so as to ensure quality of the building structures," Chombo said.

Desperate home seekers around Zimbabwe's urban settlements have been duped of millions of dollars by fly-by-night contractors and Chombo said this has also been the reason for the illegal developments.

"We have also witnessed a situation whereby home seekers are swindled by unscrupulous co-operatives and housing developers through dubious stands sales and housing schemes," he said.

"The former scenario has given rise to disorderly and haphazard developments which are an eye sore as one approaches the capital city."

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