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Residents Tell Tsvangirai Life Too Tough in Epworth Settlement

  • Thomas Chiripasi

FILE: A woman stands in a hut filled with maize grain in Epworth, on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012.

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday visited Epworth in the outskirts of Harare to assess the living conditions of people in the settlement.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by his party's secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and organizing secretary Abednico Bhebhe, among other top officials, visited three residential areas - Solani, Overspill and Pentagon where he spoke with residents.

One of the residents, Lilian Maphosa, told the opposition leader that the major problem faced by many inhabitants of Epworth is the shortage of decent accommodation and lack of jobs for the youth.

“Most people here do not have roofs over their heads after government demolished some houses last year; we have families that are living in the open and the shacks that some of the affected people had erected are now being destroyed by the rains that keep pounding,” said Maphosa.

For its part, government is urging all its citizens to erect their houses at designated stands while its crackdown on illegal structures was stopped by the High Court last year which ordered authorities to provide alternative accommodation before destroying people's homes.

Another Epworth resident, Shelton Java, said many inhabitants risk losing their lives because of poor sanitation facilities.

Mr. Tsvangirai says what is urgently needed to address problems faced by the Epworth community is for authorities to decide on the jurisdiction of the local board.

He said his party would also source funds to drill boreholes in Epworth in order to ensure that local residents have access to clean water.

The former prime minister said the problems faced by Epworth residents, like all other Zimbabweans, were being caused by what he described as a "clueless government that has turned the country into a vending economy" where more than 85 percent of the people are unemployed.

He also renewed his call for his supporters to refrain from violence even in the face of provocation in order to promote peace and stability in the country.

Tsvangirai also visited Overspill Clinic to assess the health situation in the area but authorities there refused to give him any details saying they were not authorized to speak about any issues at that place.