Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo recently said urban and rural councils should surrender houses and residential stands repossessed from aspiring home owners who failed to pay for them due to lack of money, bringing relief and hope to struggling families.
Sheila Gwangwadza celebrated when she was allocated an unserviced stand at Mapako low density suburb in Chinhoyi in 2004.
She quickly secured a loan of Z$15 million for a deposit and water connections.
But in 2009, Gwangwadza was surprised to see someone putting a structure at her stand. Upon enquires she was told that the stand had been allocated to someone else because she had failed to put a structure as required by the law.
Gwangwadza is one of the elated ordinary people hoping to get her land back. She said she could not build anything since the stand had been repossessed by the council without her knowledge.
Shepherd Masotse says the directive should also include those who lost properties because of political affiliation.
Masotse lost his family home in Chikonohono to the late Zanu PF provincial chairman Robert Sikanyika.
He says then he’ll never forget the day the late Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman Sikanyika and the then council housing director ordering his father to vacate their home. The family’s crime, according to Sikanyika, was that they supported “a sellout party”, the MDC-T.
“Robert Sikanyika and the director came to our house and told us that he was given the house by Ignatius Chombo even the governor is aware of that,’ says Masotse.
Chinhoyi former deputy mayor Willie Nyambe says people lost stands and houses to Zanu PF and not MDC-T councillors, as Mr. Chombo would want the people to believe.
“The directive to give houses and stands back to their owners is not new in Chinhoyi. In 2011 the outgoing national housing minister Giles Mutsekwa told the then Chinhoyi town clerk Muringani that it was government policy that nobody in Zimbabwe shall be removed from their accommodation and thrown out in the open regardless of circumstances,” says Nyambe.
Chombo’s directive also gives a ray of hope to about 20 families that have taken the council to court over ownership wrangles, following the eviction of former Golden Kopje employees, who were accused of being MDC-T members.
Chinhoyi council chairman Joseph Manyurapasi says they haven’t received Chombo’s directive, adding they will only act if they get it in writing.
Chombo said councils which were run by the Movement for Democratic Change formations from 2000 up to July this year, should have given residents at least 20 years to pay for the houses and residential stands instead of repossessing them.
Constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku says Chombo’s directives are unlawful, especially as he was no longer a minister running that portfolio when it was made.