AN unclear number of people — whose figure is estimated to be a couple of thousands — is currently homeless in Harare South after being chucked off a farm belonging to once upon a time Zimbabwe’s leading poultry producer, Crest Breeders International.
While the company went through due process, via the courts that is, to evict the illegal settlers and while the settlers should have known better not to occupy private land, their plight speaks to many things about how Zimbabwe, more often than not, ill-treats its citizens.
It is also the most glaring of the Zimbabwean government’s apparent and blatant disregard for citizens’ right to decent shelter.
Successive governments under the forever-ruling Zanu PF party have since independence in 1980, 42 years ago, hardly respected Zimbabweans’ right to a roof over their heads to the point of forcing them to resettle themselves willy-nilly, while others among the ruling elite have taken advantage of the situation to parcel out State land to many hapless homeless thousands to further their political ambitions.
We find it very outlandish that a whole government worth its salt can be so disorganised and completely docile that: 1) It allows people to illegally settle themselves anywhere and everywhere, only to wake up ages later to destroy their homes and livelihoods; and 2) it allows individuals to crown themselves land barons with the power to distribute State land while lazily yawning about their existence and pretending to be acting against the criminals.
That individuals are grabbing State land and making it theirs in a country we all believe has a functional government which religiously adheres to the rule of law, speaks volumes about this administration.
All these shenanigans around the country’s housing crisis point to dereliction of duty on the part of government.
Zimbabwe needs more than a million housing units to meet the demand for shelter by its nationals, but oddly, the thousands of Zimbabweans on local councils’ housing waiting lists have hardly been allocated pieces of land to build homes, yet cities and towns continue to balloon with new settlements on purportedly privately-owned land when we are all told land is by law State-owned.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power in 2018 riding on his party’s promise to avail 1,5 million houses by the next election in 2023. This translated to 300 000 houses per year. Unfortunately, it now appears that was all a load of hot air, a big lie to be more precise.
We find it very curious that the Zanu PF government chose to promise houses, instead of land which would have been easier to deliver than a complete house.
Those evicted in Harare South are proof that they can build their own houses if given the land. The key to the housing challenge is availing affordable land for accommodation to home seekers and the problem will be solved because Zimbabwe’s housing crisis is man-made.
Regrettably, the Zanu PF government has not been seeing this very low-hanging fruit for the past four decades. Or maybe, it is deliberately choosing not to see it. And it seems the ruling party would rather profit from the land than avail it to citizens to afford them the right to shelter.
What a shameless government!