Double blow for Zimbabwean flood victims as government offers houses to home owners who leased their houses.

A government minister stated, “We will sit down as a government with the Minister for Harare Province and look at the legitimate people.”

John Cassim

Housing Minister, Daniel Garwe in white cap, touring some blocks of flats in Dzivarasekwa, where some Budiriro flood victims will be allocated new apartments. The apartments are not for free.

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean government is at a loss for how to help the recent flood victims in Budiriro, Harare, after realising the majority of those affected are either tenants or the caretakers of those properties. 

This was revealed during a recent inspection visit by three government officials, during which it was reported that homeowners would be moving from this marsh region to Dzivarasekwa, which is 25km away.

Daniel Garwe, the Minister of National Housing, disclosed that 27 homeowners had been identified for relocation.

The identification process was carried out two years ago during yet another flood which was less severe than the current one.

“We don’t know whether they are tenants or the landlords but the people that we moved to higher ground in Budiriro (evacuation centre) are the people that were there when we visited two years ago, and those are the beneficiaries we identified.

We know that there are people who then came after, when they heard that government was going to give alternative accommodation and they thought they could also benefit from that,” Minister Garwe said.

Regarding how the government intended to handle the actual flood victims, Garwe announced that an audit will be conducted.

“We will sit down as government with the Minister for Harare Province and look at the legitimate people because there are people who want to take advantage of the environment and would want to cash-in,” Garwe added.

The new houses will not for free even though a repayment modality is yet to be announced.

Victims’ tales

McDonald Mujokoto claimed that the floods had “shattered” his life. 

The tall Mujokoto, who had consumed flood water tainted with human excrement, was extremely pale and sickly from diarrhoea.

“I don’t know what it is but I am suspecting it could be Cholera, they are giving me some rehydration solution (salt and sugar solution) at the clinic nearby, as we speak there many of us at this camp who are suffering from diarrhea,” McDonald

Around three in the morning on December 22, McDonald claimed he heard his two small sons crying out from their floor sleep and realised that water was entering the house.

He felt a powerful currency of water strike him as soon as he opened the door, filling his two rooms instantly.

After he was able to escape the house, he saw his neighbour Shildar, struggle with the heavy currency as she clung to her two kids until the six-year-old got swept away.

He still has vivid memories of this day. 

Owing to the tragedy he witnessed, he gets emotional every time he considers going back to that place.

He voiced worry that he might not be able to take advantage of this government pragrammes because he is a tenant at the Budiriro residence.

“This house does not belong to me. I am a caretaker because I am unemployed and cannot afford to rent a house for my family. This home’s owner resides in Dzivarasekwa.

A frail-looking McDonald remarked, “I am an outcast at my father’s rural Zvimba home because my father rejected me. Now I don’t know what I will do with my family.”

In the meantime, Shildar, whose child was killed in the floods, claims she is now living in dread after receiving threats for disclosing the information regarding her welfare.

When Shildar broke down while trying to share her experience, government representatives interrupted her right away during their visit to the Budiriro 3 Primary school evacuation camp.

Reporters were unable to confirm, whether Shildar is one of the 27 ‘designated house owners’ who are supposed to move in January.

Harare City Council billing 

While government officials continue to claim that the construction of houses in this swampy area in Budiriro is illegal, evidence on the ground proves, the City of Harare is in fact billing these residents every month.

Documents provided to this journalist indicated that the occupants are paying property taxes and housing administration fees.

The homes in this township have account numbers, or stand numbers in the Step neighborhood.

When elephants fight the grass burns, and the Budiriro housing scandal is no exception. 

As a result, many victims have lost their money and lives have been wasted.

Charles Tawengwa, the Metropolitan Minister of Harare, emphasised that demolition would commence as soon as the 27 identified victims had been relocated.

“They have to abide by the law, if they had followed the law all this would not have happened, what has to be demolished will be demolished,” he said.

While opposition councilors, lawmakers, and council officials are held accountable for the distribution of housing land in wetlands, the ruling ZANU PF recently acknowledged in a letter that some of its members were complicit in the fraud.

Land barons who are using the party name and name calling senior party leaders in the government, were advised to stop, by the letter written by Patrick Chinamasa.  

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