Home-seekers need govt protection

HARARE - Reports that the City of Mutare is planning to raze down a slum dwelling in Chikanga high density suburb — an issue which Transparency International Zimbabwe has taken to court — follow the demolition of homes on a 70-hectare piece of land owned by Bak Storage along the Harare-Masvingo highway that left 3 000 families homeless last month.

No one has thought about the plight of the families that were left in the open when the owners rolled in excavators, armed with a High Court order, and knocked down the structures along with their contents.

The affected families will be exposed to the vagaries of the weather — known to be very unfriendly during this time of the year when the rains usually come.

While they may be legally right in demolishing the settlements — which they deem illegal — it is important to arrange alternative shelter for the residents, a right enshrined in the Constitution.

In the Mutare case, the city fathers have criticised the Chikanga temporary structures as being unsightly, unhygienic and unregulated.

They argue that they are entitled to raze them because they were built illegally and adequate notice had been given to the owners of the pending demolitions.

The Homeless People’s Federation of Dangamvura allegedly swindled the owners of the Chikanga structures.

Land barons have been on the prowl for too long and they have fleeced thousands of desperate home-seekers of their hard-earned cash who pay in the hope of owning a residential stand of their own.

Government has not gone beyond threatening to arrest land barons, the majority of whom have gone scot-free despite overwhelming evidence against them.

Sterner action is needed in dealing with these fraudsters who prey on people’s desperation.

Home-seekers also need to be circumspect when sourcing residential stands, by consulting the municipal authority of the area in question, whose officers would know whether the land is private property or is earmarked for housing development.

Owning a residential stand for the poor, especially in urban areas is cumbersome, with home-seekers turning to easy shortcuts that expose them to marauding fraudsters.

Meanwhile, housing waiting lists, including those for growth points, keep swelling while no one gets allocated a residential stand.

The few that get first priority either are cash-rich and pay their way through or are well-connected.

Something has to be done, and urgently too, to ensure that owning a residential property anywhere in the country is made easy.

This will not leave room for the ever-scheming land barons and politicians who take advantage of people’s desperation.

There is need, therefore, for government to take the issue seriously and protect home-seekers.

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