Pressure mounts on Chombo over Chitungwiza housing scandal

Arthur Taderera from the Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association said there is no political will to deal with the housing crisis or the scandals

By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
15 May, 2014

Pressure is intensifying on Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to account for the housing scandal that has rocked the high density suburb of Chitungwiza, and to provide land that was promised to ZANU PF supporters ahead of the 2013 elections.

In addition to a party promise to create 2 million jobs countrywide, local ZANU PF officials in Chitungwiza are reported to have promised plots of land to their youth supporters, a promise which the party has now reportedly agreed to fulfil, but only after the youths held a protest.

According to the Daily News newspaper, government has “acceded to housing demands by ZANU PF youths in Chitungwiza”, following a protest at the Council headquarters by hundreds of angry ZANU PF youths on Monday.

The paper said the youths refused to talk to the press, but an official who spoke anonymously said the protesters were demanding “at least three residential stands in each district from the Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, promised to them during the election campaigns last year”.

Reports earlier this week had said the youth were protesting Chombo’s failure to turn up to address them regarding pending evictions, but it has now been revealed that broken promises were at the centre of the heated protests by the youths, who wore ZANU PF party regalia and chanted slogans.

Arthur Taderera from the Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association said there is no political will to deal with the housing crisis or the scandals, despite residents having won several court cases against the Chitungwiza municipality.

“The level of corruption in Council itself has been so rotten that anybody could see it. There are some houses which were paying money which did not get to the Council coffers, but to Council employees’ own pockets. Other houses were listed but not paying any rates,” Taderera told SW Radio Africa

He said they confronted Chombo last month at a meeting of the Chitungwiza Council, after he proposed to evict residents on illegal plots within three weeks, but without providing alternative accommodation for them.

“Move them but you must compensate them if they have been prejudiced by Council employees because Council knew about it. This is about land barons who were also ZANU PF and under Chombo and they must deal with them first,” Taderera explained.

Chombo has taken no action against so-called land barons at the centre of the corruption scandal and has himself been investigated and accused of being involved in corrupt land deals around Harare. But there has been no political will to prosecute him.

The housing issue in Chitungwiza has made headlines on many occasions in the last year, after an audit revealed that corrupt local officials made huge fortunes by allocating stands illegally to residents, who now face eviction and stand to lose their investments.

A local civil judge halted the evictions last month, citing the residents’ constitutional right to housing and protection from arbitrary eviction. No evictions can be carried out legally without a court order and government must provide alternative accommodation first.

ZANU PF made many promises to voters as a political gimmick to boost support ahead of the July, 2013 elections, and now Zimbabweans are demanding what they believe is due to them, especially those who voted for Mugabe and ZANU PF candidates countrywide.



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