Again challenging United Nations efforts to relieve Zimbabwe's homeless, the Harare government is demanding that U.N. officials tear down a prototype emergency shelter built at a transit camp outside the capital, complaining that it is substandard.
Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo ordered the U.N. to destroy the model home built at Hopely Farm east of Harare, one location where families and individuals displaced by the government’s May-July slum clearance campaign have been gathered. Many are living in the open with little more than plastic sheets to fend off the elements.
Sources at the United Nations Development Program said a showdown is looming as the U.N. Habitat agency, which collaborated with the Zimbabwean government in the design and construction of the controversial model home, objects to demolishing the structure and has proposed simply to modify the building as may be required.
The U.N. seeks to build 2500 homes under an agreement reached with Harare. U.N. country representative Agostinho Zacarias, responded to government objections to the shelter by noting that government-appointed technicians helped design it.
The government has also demanded that the U.N. build homes with at least two rooms for families affected by the operation it first named Operation Restore Order.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Boniface Chidyausiku, Harare's U.N. ambassador, about the dispute, and sought perspective from Herman Honekom, parliamentary liaison officer for the Africa Institute of South Africa.