ZIMBABWE. Harare: Following subsequent heavy rains that hit Harare last month, a number of houses in the city’s Retreat Farm collapsed when their mud and walls were saturated.
This is due to the result of the houses built on a wetland area which was against government regulations.
One family, only identified as the Tapera family, woke up in a disastrous flood surrounded the house as water overflowed from a nearby dam which is less than 300 metres from houses.
Even though the family had left the scene, their nephew, who spoke upon request fro anonymity, described how they woke up with water in their house.
“We have been given these stands some years ago and nobody knew it was a wetland as there was poor rains over the past years”
We were surprised today when we wake in floods and unfortunately my uncles house was the most affected”, he said.
“Food stuffs and other things that were on the floor have been drowned, had it been that they have no relatives in the neighbourhood, it was going to be a disaster”, the nephew narrated.
The scene was pitiful as they only managed to move out while property and food were left inside.
According to the neighbours, a close relative offered to accommodate them.
A survey conducted by Transcontinental Times shows that those who were affected had built in an inappropriate space for human habitation which they have been allocated by ZANU PF youths land barons who label themselves as ‘comrades’.
Retreat farm is in Harare South Constituency, one of the area which is popularly known for strong ZANU PF grassroots.
Residents told Transcontinental Times that they have been allocated the stands by comrades who sold them for a small amount.
They bought the stands at US$150-200 and they are adamant to move out of the place as they claim to have nowhere to go.
Residents claim proper lands to resettle
Tafadzwa Dube said the City Council housing waiting list takes too long yet people cannot afford to continue paying rent at high prices.
“We are not happy to live this way, but we have no option as it seems better to buy other basics whilst not paying rent”, Dube said.
“Moreover, if they want us to move from here they should give us a proper land to resettle’, he said.
Some residents raised a concern of refunding regardless of the little amount they paid.
Another resident Tichaona Kururama said he is afraid of losing his stand as he has nowhere to go since he is unemployed.
“As l saw you coming we thought you are a Government or City of Harare agent who came to spy the area so that they can come and demolish our houses and leave us homeless”, Karurama said to our reporter.
“If we are to be moved, they should allocate proper lands we can strive to build in reliable areas”, he continued.
Land barons take advantage of home seekers
There have been records of deliberate double allocation of stands by these youths in Housing Co-operatives.
Some paid for stands which they were promised but until now haven’t been allocated the land.
Many people have been conned by land barons who sell them land at $100-200 in illegal areas.
The desperation of owning stands has seen many being victims of demolitions by City Councils against building in wetlands and other illegal lands that were set aside for recreation and other public institutions An estimation of more than 1 million people are on a housing waiting list countrywide and this has created a space for unscrupulous land barons to con desperate home seekers.
Differences in political ideologies
ZANU PF and MDC differences in political ideologies confounded desperate home seekers as there is a conflict of powers between the City Council and Local Government.
Harare has a strong opposition back up and the City Council is led by opposition officials.
Constitutionally, the Local Government operates under the framework promulgated by the Central Government, but in a unitary state like Zimbabwe, opposition-led authorities have no power over the state.
In January, more than 100 houses in Budiriro were demolished as they were said to have been built on illegal designations.
A land in which residents acquired for 10 or more years ago and many people were left homeless and hopeless.
Harare Residents Trust Director, Precious Shumba said the actions by illegal land barons manifest the government and ruling party’s inclusive dominance.
“The demolitions contested in the courts and orders were issued as the Central Government is saying they want to correct the poor town planning allowed by the local authority”, he said.
Shumba also raised concerns that the land on which the houses had been built had not been properly allocated.
“Majority of the houses were built on land inappropriately designated and not suitable for human habitation but we have doubts that land barons will be seriously prosecuted”, Shumba continued.
“It is very easy to tell that the government wants to prove to the opposition-led local authorities that if they do not follow the law, the houses will be demolished, thus showing the nation that the opposition lacks the capacity to run the affairs of our local authorities”, he said.
He also said the idea is to punish the opposition policymakers.
Politics has witnessed the detention and detention of City Council officials and Mayors in the name of retaining the public interest while land barons are left unpunished.