The UN Habit Agenda defines housing as a basic human right which must be accorded to all regardless of gender,color,race,religion etc.The general definition of house is a building or dwelling in which people live.When one visits the area where the river makes its way near Mbare in Harare,Mazai river adjacent to Makokoba Bulawayo ,dust streets of Mtapa Gweru ,one is sure to find people with no hope of ever owning a house. Access for the poor to urban land and housing is one of the main challenges facing the policy makers in Zimbabwe . Housing shortages have been stalking Zimbabwe for many years now .The harsh economic situation that dogged our country.However ,escalating housing prices ,limited access to land,housing finances and land regulations which govern sub-division of land and low supply of subsidised housing has made it difficult for poor as well as middle class households to enter the formal housing market.
When its hard to access a house in Zimbabwe ; the residents of New Canaan Highfield at Mai Chaza and Geneva area are up in arms against Harare City Council whom they are accusing of trying to evict them from the houses they occupied since way back in 1970s because they don’t have title deeds. The issue if not properly handled by the Harare City Council in a holistic manner can end up political as the election fever begin to gain momentum. The tenants for staying in these houses for more than 40-50years ,they deserve the ownership without paying any cent to council.If council want to demolish these two roomed houses and claiming that they would build high risers. First they should provide decent houses for the residents. Yours truly is informed that already 3 tenants were evicted for non payment of rates which were amounting to $4000. Can rates of a two roomed house amount to $4000 in less than 5years? The residents have been given invitation letters by council to come to their district office on different dates starting today.The issue why now they want to evict them from these houses . Who is behind the motion of eviction ? Is it a political gambling but the main issue is on children and adults who had established the sense of belonging ; those two roomed houses is there security and only what they have. The City fathers of Harare be good stewards to your residents . Handle the issue with wisdom .
However, delivering a basic house on a serviced plot remains a complex process,riddled with planning approval delays and overly high infrastructure costs.In a green-field development ,the first step is to identify suitable land with easy access to economic opportunities and other social amenities.On completion of a basic feasibility study,the next step is to secure enviromental and planning approvals .Besides the cost factor ,this process is entangled in burauctic red -tape and can take several years to obtain.This long waiting period puts further financial burden on the developer and derails the entire development.Once the approvals are in place the next hurdle is financing the installation of land infrastracture such as roads,sewerage,water and electricity.Municipalities impose stringent and unrealistic infrastructure standards as conditions of approval.
The issue is on ward Councillors,Town Developing Department,Housing Director , heads in local government institutes because majority of them have a hand in red tape as they will award themselves land and give each other contracts of land developing. We have challenges of housing shortages in Bulawayo ,Harare ,Mutare ,Gweru and all towns in our country .Ask yourself if you are not a barrier of progress in land developing and access of land to the poor. Our government should have foreseen long time ago as our population is growing ,development was supposed to be taking place in line with growing population.
We need people of integrity and sober minds in the progress of land developing. Pasi nembavha , Phansi ngamasela (Down with red tape). Every Zimbabwean citizen nomatter color ,race ,religion and political affiliation has a basic right to own a house.
Enos Denhere is a nation builder and Business Developer.
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