Government to reaccomodate families on wetlands

By Trevor Makonyonga

Government has begun clearing wetlands and dysfunctional settlements.

At a press cabinet briefing held on Wednesday, Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said government is now identifying suitable areas of settlement for the affected families.

“The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, briefed Cabinet on the ongoing programme to address the untenable situation brought about by the emergence of irregular and dysfunctional settlements, including in wetlands and flood-prone areas. The programme also covers the production of the National Wetlands Masterplan, streamlining the operations of housing cooperatives and the rehabilitation of damaged roads.

“Cabinet advises that the number of families residing in wetlands or in dysfunctional and irregular settlements which are in need of alternative accommodation stands at 31 257. Verification of affected households is ongoing. In the meantime, the provision of relief to distressed households in areas prone to flooding is underway, while the identification of safe places in all Provinces is being carried out.”

So far, government has identified places in Dzivarasekwa and Highfield in Harare together with Senga in Gweru with construction predicted to commence at the end of the year.

“It will be recalled that the settlement project includes the development of blocks of flats by Government to house huge numbers of relocated households at Dzivarasekwa, and at Highfield (Harare) and Senga (Gweru) Messengers Camps.

“Cabinet is happy to report that ground-clearance of the construction area for the building of four blocks at Dzivarasekwa has been done and procurement of construction materials is underway, with actual construction set to commence in mid-May 2021. The additional forty blocks approved by Cabinet for construction at Dzivararsekwa will be completed this year. Concerning the Messengers Camps projects, Government plans to construct 15 blocks of flats with 240 housing units on the available open spaces at the Highfield Messengers Camp. The first phase entails construction of two blocks of flats with 32 housing units to accommodate the first group of households residing in existing units. The second phase will entail the construction of a further two blocks. On the other hand, the redevelopment of Senga Messengers Camp will create 13 blocks of four-storey flats with a total of 208 household units. The additional funds required to ensure that the Dzivarasekwa, Highfield and Senga Messengers Camps projects are completed this year will be provided by Treasury. On a related matter, Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the regularisation of Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Settlements through provision of on-site and off-site infrastructure by Government is a top priority under the programme, since they constitute a significant portion of the category of settlements with approved plans.”

The private sector will also be involved as government has given some players a nod to assist in easing the burden on housing.

“Regarding private sector participation in the settlements construction projects, the following sites have been identified for piloting of the public private-sector partnership: Gimboki South (Mutare); Cowdray Park (Bulawayo); Hatcliffe North (Harare); Southlea Park (Harare South); and Caledonia (Goromonzi). Bids for expressions of interest for the regularisation and sanitisation of dysfunctional settlements were invited from the private sector and adjudication of submitted bids was completed on 30 April, 2021. Materials and labour are now being mobilised and construction is expected to start in earnest around mid-May 2021.”

On streamlining the operations of Housing Cooperatives, it is advised that any settlements established by these entities which are irregular and dysfunctional will be removed or regularized in terms of the set criteria under the relevant statutes, with those eligible for relocation receiving the necessary support. Profiling of the cooperatives should bring out the land barons and other illegal cooperatives which should be deregistered, while viable cooperatives will be strengthened and supported.

Government also advised the nation that teams led by Ministers will soon embark on assessment visits of settlement and road rehabilitation projects to verify their status in all provinces in order to ensure timely delivery.