|NHB Section, Sakubva.|
MUTARE - Redevelopment plans for substandard houses in Sakubva have sparked fears that several dozen families will be left without a place to call home, TellZim News can report.
One such family is the Muradzikwa family which has been notified by council to vacate its old two-roomed house in the NHB Section of Sakubva.
The Muradzikwas, are just but one of 71 more families who face displacement so that new blocks of flats could be built to replace the colonial era housing units.
In September, council sent eviction notices to tenants; meaning that Tapiwa Muradzikwa, his wife Gracia Musanyera and their four children have to find alternative accommodation or risk being out on the streets.
After the notices, council established a perimeter fence around 71 NHB Section households.
"We were almost evicted like dogs by the Mutare Housing Department but the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) came and fought for us. My late parents were allocated this house through a lease agreement several decades ago.
“I was shocked when the town clerk said they will give us money to secure other houses to rent but he had never consulted," said Muradzikwa.
His wife Musanyera said the family could not afford alternative accommodation since other houses available demanded more in monthly rentals.
"Our earnings are not enough to cater for our current family needs, let alone pay for alternative accommodation in better places. Even when they put up new structures, I doubt we will afford to live there," said Musanyera.
Doubt Hambira (32) who inherited an NHB house from his uncle, urged council and government to uphold human rights when evicting them.
"The redevelopment plans must not be a burden to us and authorities must not infringe on our basic human rights. Development must not be a disadvantage to residents. I feel an alternative piece of land should have been found for the new project, rather than evict," said Hambira.
Mutare City Council spokesperson Spren Mutiwi said the lease agreements signed between tenants and council were still valid and will enable tenants to get accommodation in the new flats.
"They must look for temporary accommodation while construction is done. The bank which is financing this project will foot the bill for temporary accommodation for all tenants. The project seeks to dignify our people’s living conditions," said Mutiwi.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) official, Edson Dube said housing was a human right and council ought to commit to providing alternative accommodation to tenants.
“The relationship between council and residents is informed by suspicion, mistrust and negative perceptions so authorities must reverse this by putting it in black and white that they will pay for tenants’ temporary housing," said Dube.
President Mnangagwa toured Sakubva in December last year and lamented the squalid housing units he saw, pledging support for the renewal project.