Zimbabwe: Mbare Project Raises Stink

Harare City Council and the government have come under fire after revelations that the much-trumpeted renovation of Mbare's Matapi Flats only centred around the repainting of outside walls.

The Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) and Combined Harare Residents' Association said residents were not happy that they were not consulted before the renovations began.

"The residents believe they were the ones who were supposed to give the government and the council their order of priorities within the urban renewal programme to make it more participatory," HRT said in a statement after a tour of the painted flats.

"While council and the government have prioritised the painting of the outside of the flats to look nice and beautiful, the inside leaves one shocked and and in disbelief at how these residents live with raw sewage flowing in their toilets and bathrooms.

"The sinks have collapsed and human waste flows everywhere.

"The walls have huge cracks, which threaten residents lives every day.

"Three or more families may share one room, and there is no privacy, exposing children to sexual harassment, with couples sleeping in the same room with their grown up children, which is against our culture."

Poor sewer reticulation and inconsistent refuse collection were some of the major problems facing the flat dwellers, the residents' associations noted.

According to James Jenkins, a resident at the "refurbished" flats, there is a serious shortage of toilets with one block consisting of 17 different rooms having one functional toilet.

Jenkins said most of the residents relieved themselves on the banks of the nearby Mukuvisi River.

"There is no running water to wash away the human waste strewn on the floors," said Jenkins.

"The bathrooms are dysfunctional and there is filthy water on the worn-out floors."

"The Matapi flats are overpopulated and people need to be relocated as they are living with an average of two to three families in one room."

The refurbishment of the flats was one of Zanu PF's election promises in the run-up to last year's polls.

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