ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has admitted that the sprouting of illegal settlements in most urban areas in the country has been a result of its failure to facilitate the provision of decent housing to millions of people on the waiting list.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Tuesday, Deputy Minister Christopher Chingosho said the government was now concerned with the sprouting of illegal settlements and their subsequent demolitions, adding that the government had created a conducive environment to allow private players help ease the housing problem in the country.
“As a ministry we are struggling to facilitate the provision of decent and affordable housing to the populace. In this regard, we have created a conducive environment through flexible policies for every actor to participate in human settlement development so as to bring back sanity in the housing delivery sector as we endeavour to make a dent on our huge national housing backlog,” he said.
Chingosho said the government alone could not afford to provide housing to all those in need of accommodation, hence the need to encourage other stakeholders to fully participate in the delivery of one of the three basic human rights.
He said, however, that unscrupulous land developers, barons, co-operatives and housing trusts had abused the window and were swindling unsuspecting members of the public through illegal residential land deals.
“Let me at this point reiterate that government has instituted a moratorium on all land allocations to so-called land developers and as policy, going forward, shall be utilising the Urban Development Corporation for all developments on state land. Government will no longer brook situations where un-serviced stands are sold to unsuspecting members of the public,” he said.
However, the deputy minister, who was flanked by permanent Secretary in the Ministry, George Mlilo, dodged several questions from journalists who were seeking clarification on the explosive land issue, which has seen the government clash with its own people.
The deputy minister could not explain why people who had been allocated land way back in 2000 and had relevant papers from both the Ministry and the City of Harare had had their houses demolished and were moved to an un-serviced piece of land at Stoneridge farm, in Harare East.
Ironically the minister had earlier warned people against being allocated land which was not serviced, while encouraging local authorities to inform the public of the status of all residential stands before allocating them.
Mlilo had also confirmed during the press conference that the demolitions being carried out in Harare and other parts of the country had the blessing of government.