About 46 beneficiaries of the Garikayi Kariba Housing scheme, introduced by the government in 2005 following the infamous Operation Murambatsvina or Clean-Up Filth, are facing eviction as the Ministry of Local Government claims they owe thousands of dollars in rent arrears.
The ministry is pushing to evict the families saying they have failed to pay $10 rentals backdating to nearly ten years ago when they were given the housing units.
Nyasha Pondiwa says he was elated when he became a beneficiary of the scheme in 2006 after failing for years to save money to buy a stand or a house. But now he is a bitter man as he is on the verge of losing his house because the government wants him to pay $785 in rent arrears.
Pondiwa accuses the government for double standards.
Another Kariba Garikayi tenant, Abgail Moda, is vowing to stay put claiming she bought the land from the local authority while the government provided the structure.
But Local Government Ministry official, Lancelot Nyanhemwa, who is based in Chinhoyi, says the tenants are not telling the truth, adding they were given enough time to pay for the houses.
Nyanhemwa says the houses were evaluated and pegged at different prices ranging from $1,800 to $2,500 depending on the level of completion when they were allocated.
He said they will give the tenants enough time before evicting them. The official noted that another option is for the Garikayi housing scheme house owners to make payment plans with the government if they want to remain in their homes.
Others are calling on the ministry to write-off their arrears as was done with water and electricity bills when Zanu PF won last year’s national elections. The residents say the United States dollar has been hard to come by for most of them who are out of employment and therefore struggling to make a living.
Most beneficiaries of the Garikai Housing Scheme were victims of the 2005 infamous Operation Murambatsvina/Clean-up Filth which left about 800,000 Zimbabweans homeless.
The government embarked on the housing scheme as an effort to address the situation created by its clean-up exercise that received international criticism. The state provided land and half-completed structures, which beneficiaries were expected to finish constructing on their own.