More than 460 residents from of Belvedere West, situated close to the national shrine Heroes Acres and the Zimbabwe National Sport Stadium, have been living without essential services for a decade and a half.
The residents, who have paid in full for their stands, are yet to be connected to the city water and sewer systems. Adding to their woes, there are no serviced roads and refuse has not been collected since the establishment of the suburb fifteen years ago.
Edson Nhumburudzi, who bought a stand in 2001 from Borm Real Estate, says the situation is so dire that they live in constant fear of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Nhumburudzi told Harare News that they have resigned themselves to their fate, as their case is now complicated by a dispute between the developers (Davy Fukwa Mutingwende and Enerst Antony Pahwaringira of Saltana Enterprise (Pvt) Ltd) and the residents. “We get our drinking water from wells and have dug septic tanks in our backyards, but we are afraid the wells will soon be contaminated through seepage as our stands are too small for septic tank facilities,” said Nhumburudzi.
Another resident, identified as Manenji, said the developers duped them, saying that they were in an arrangement with City of Harare (CoH) to provide the services when in fact they had not paid the servicing fees.” We are told the land is still owned by the City of Harare and we have to pay $6,800 in order for the local authority to come in and do the servicing. Where can we get this kind of money?” asked Manenji.
Councillor for Ward 5 Paula Macharangwanda says she is well aware of the plight of the residents and the difficulties they are facing, but said she was hamstrung by the court proceedings between the residents and the developers. “I have approached the City Planning Department on a number of occasions to see if they can remedy the situation and I have been advised to wait until the close of the case in the High Court,” said Macharangwanda.
Asked why CoH pulled out of the arrangement with the developer, Councillor Macharangwanda said the memorandum of understanding signed between the developers and CoH was that the developers were to sell stands to people on the housing list, and the City would retain 30 percent which was supposed to be submitted to the housing department from the sale of stands. However the developers failed to deliver on their promise.
Councillor Macharangwanda said the Belvedere West case is similar to the Milton Park and Monavale housing development debacles, where the developer left home owners in a comparable predicament.
Meanwhile, Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi said private land developers have put more strain on the City Planning Department. According to the Town Clerk, the upgrades take up huge unplanned-for sums of money from their budget, since the properties were not initially their responsibility or part of their design for the city.
“We have a number of private and illegal settlements that were not part of the City’s local planning, and are now being surrendered to the local authority.”
With all the land around the city now claimed by one land baron or another, desperate home seekers are now targeting open spaces in and around Harare to put up their structures. In the process the city is fast being turned into one big slum.
According to the 2014 Implementation Guide to the National Housing Delivery Programme launched by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, much of the blame is on government.