Occupants of Gimbok South slum in Mutare’s Dangamvura high density suburb have implored government to expedite the process the transfer of the settlement to Mutare City Council saying their current living conditions exposed them to Covid-19 pandemic.
Gimbok South is sitting on 118 hectares of land averaging between 4 500 and 5 000 housing stands with also an average population of over 30 000.
The controversial project was initiated by government in 2005 as a housing scheme for low income earners.
Occupants were haphazardly settled on the unserviced land by government.
To date, the area has no proper water and sewer reticulation system, schools, roads, health facilities and road network.
Residents are living in temporary structures as the area has not been properly serviced.
Various groups such as National Housing Development Trust (NHDT), Mutare District Union (MDU), Mutare private companies, CMED, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Prisons, National Railways of Zimbabwe(NRZ) and Correctional Services(ZPCS) were allocated stands as a consortium.
The project kicked off well but problems started along the way as the consortium started misappropriating funds forcing government to intervene.
Gimbok South Residents Committee chairperson, Noremore Muza said residents were living under squalid conditions that exposed them to Covid-19.
“It’s high time government hands over the project to the local authority. We engaged the new city council management and they agreed that they were willing to work with us to sanitise Gimbok South.
“Residents and beneficiaries have confidence with the new management at the council since they have displayed a show of strength by completing some known projects that were not done by the former management,” said Muza.
He said Urban Development Corporation (URDCORP), a state-owned enterprise which was roped in by then local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere in 2016 did not do much to bring sanity in the area.
“UDCORP did not do much joy to local residents. There was no meaningful development whatsoever after residents paid US$10 as registration and $600 as project cost. They just left without any notification,” said Muza.
Against this background, Muza said they have resolved that the project be completed under Mutare City Council in line with the 2016 agreement that chased away land barons, group leaders and consortium leaders to safeguard stand owners from losses and double allocation.
“As residents and beneficiaries, we are willing to work with Mutare City Council in trenching, laying of water and sewer pipes that are on the site yard and paying for the remaining services with equal contribution from all beneficiaries of phase 1,2 and 3,” said Muza.
Christine Tsodza, a committee member said the situation on the ground was not pleasing as their families were exposed to Covid-19.
“We are living by the grace of God. We are living in temporary structures for years and we can’t control kids to be in the house always because some have families have two rooms.
“Government should hand over the project to council so that everything is formalised and allowed beneficiaries to construct main houses,”said Tsodza.
Another resident Rumbidzai Murimi said there were few boreholes which were overwhelmed by demand for water and they were afraid that their children will be abused as they spend time looking for water.
“We are worried about girl child because they spend the whole day looking for water at the borehole. Chances are high that they may be abused or contract the Covid-19 virus as they queue for water. There is no clinic here and expecting mothers are giving birth on their way to other clinics,” said Murimi.