Govt should provide shelter

HARARE - Yesterday, the world marked World Habitat Day which is set globally to reflect on the state of our towns, cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter.

It is sad that government which once promised houses for all by 2000 is now so silent — ignoring the plight of millions of its citizens who live in squalid conditions.

Our government seems insensitive to the quandary of its populace whose claim to shelter should be a right but is in essence a pipedream.

A Government of National Unity formed three years ago with the promise to better the lives of its people has abysmally failed to live to expectations with those in power living in mansions while the masses continue to squat.

Needless to say, some of the country’s housing woes are deliberate as President Robert Mugabe’s regime in 2005 demolished houses, resulting in close to a million people becoming homeless.

Mugabe’s promise to provide basic shelter in the aftermath of operation Murambatsvina (drive away trash) in yet another operation dubbed Garikai has failed to bring roofs to hundreds of thousands of people who live in townships like Epworth and Hopley among others.

These areas lack basic sanitation and are at the messy of commutable diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

Victims of Murambatsvina did not only lose their homes, but also lost their possessions and jobs while children were forced out of school.

Aid groups report that three out of every four people living in a sub-Saharan city are in informal settlements. Their governments have failed to plan for affordable places to live in the city.

We are all too aware of people who live in the streets with no one to care for them because the government simply does not mind.

Government efforts to provide shelter, such as the Willowvale Housing Scheme have been a drop in the ocean at a time when most of the country’s urbanites are still tenants.

In some suburbs such as Mbare, up to five families share a single toilet and obviously threats of diseases are too high.

We also call for transparency in these government housing projects and urge the government which claims to be broke but still manages to finance endless foreign trips for its officials, to channel money towards affordable housing projects.

Mugabe and his ministers are accountable to the people who brought them to power and should not continue building massive mansions at a time when ordinary people do not even own a single room. - Staff Writer

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