Zimbabwe: Plans Afoot to Decongest Mbare Flats

2 August 2021

Plans are afoot to decongest Mbare flats as Government fulfils its promise to ensure decent living conditions for all citizens.

Harare Metropolitan Provincial Development Coordinator, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti, said it was inhumane and unacceptable for people in Mbare flats to continue living in overcrowded conditions.

"People cannot stay like this. It is really unacceptable and as part of Government efforts, we want to build better housing. The whole idea is to decongest Mbare so we can clear some of the places for housing development," he said.

"I am also happy to say that Ministry of (National) Housing has appointed consultants who are busy doing planning right now. So they are deciding where to put new flats, playing grounds for children and a new clinic. So we have a big task ahead of us.

"Mbare flats are overcrowded and it is not the affected families only, but even others who stay here are equally affected because they are overcrowded. So in Harare we need to decongest Mbare."

Mr Muguti was speaking while handing over groceries, blankets and clothes to residents of Matapi Flats who lost their properties in a fire incident last month.

The fire damaged 12 apartments on the second floor, but no one was injured. Thirteen families were affected and left homeless. Almost all their property and important documents were destroyed or damaged by the fire on June 30, which was reportedly caused by a child playing with a candle after a power outage.

A family of 13 members staying in one room was one of those hit.

One of the Matapi Flats residents Mr Mugove Jairo, said they were grateful for the donations by Government, particularly at this point when the country is battling Covid-19, which has seen some people failing to put food on the table due to travel restrictions aimed at containing its spread.

Mbare flats are conversions of the single men's quarters built by the then Salisbury City Council in colonial times with each floor being a huge dormitory room. They were subdivided into family accommodation after independence and while there have been multiple official and unofficial proposals on how the basic building shells could be converted into reasonable flats, absolutely nothing has been done.

Nearly 570 low-cost housing units have been constructed in the first quarter of this year, in a clear demonstration of Government's determination to provide housing to citizens, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic.

Housing delivery is one of the 14 national priority areas in the National Development Strategy (NDS1), which seeks to ensure the country attains an upper middle class economy by 2030.

NDS1 envisions the delivery of 220 000 housing units by 2023 and Government is pushing for the use of alternative technologies to fast-track construction of the houses.

Zimbabwe has a housing backlog of about 2 million units.

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