Life has become unbearable for residents whose illegal homes were demolished by the city.
Beginning in July last year, council has demolished illegal housing developments that have mushroomed around Harare in an effort to bring sanity to the housing sector. However, affected residents say that their lives have been negatively impacted as they are now homeless and living in impoverished conditions.
Shepherd Machokose (42) of Tembwe Housing Co-operative in Budiriro 5 whose house was demolished on 12 September 2015, narrated his ordeal to Harare News.
“The demolition exercise has greatly affected me. I am now living in a shack with my family. One of my children had to write her O’ Level exams while living in a shack and I am afraid that might have affected her and her results,” said Machokose.
Machokose said that he joined Tembwe Housing Co-operative in 2005 and was allocated a stand in 2010 where he proceeded to construct a three-roomed house which he said was able to accommodate his wife and four children.
“After joining the cooperative, I was made to pay $22 each month as well as other charges for surveying, engineering drawings and pegging. All in all I invested more than $8,000. I was happy that I finally owned my own house but, I am devastated that this dream was short-lived,” says Machokose.
Machokose alleged that the demolition exercise that claimed his home and 13 others was unfair as only a few houses were demolished out of more than 400 other structures that were constructed on the same piece of land.
“My stand had a stand number and it had already been connected to the water and sewer lines. I was surprised to see council targeting only these few houses. We suspect that the demolitions were initiated by a rival co-operative,” explained Machokose.
Unlike past demolitions in 2005 under Operation Murambatsvina where some affected residents were given alternative housing under the Garikai/HlalaniKuhle program, residents such as Machokose have been left without any assistance from authorities.
“We are appealing to government to help us just like they are assisting affected residents in Caledonia. The rains have come now and we do not know how we will cope,” lamented Machokose.
Machokose said that what saddens him the most is that he and his family are suffering yet those who allocated them the stands have suffered zero consequences.
“We have tried to engage the land barons so that we can recover our money but nothing has come of it as they no longer have the money. The law is not helping much as they have not been charged for their crimes. In most cases they are arrested briefly before they are released on bail,” said Machokose.
Government and council have over the years struggled to provide affordable housing for residents. This has resulted in bogus cooperatives and land barons taking advantage and duping home seekers’ of their hard earned cash. Thousands of home seekers in Harare have been swindled of millions of dollars by land barons, some of whom are now before the courts.
Image: Council bulldozer destroys resident’s home
Image credit: Farai Dauramanzi