By Wallace Musakanyi
EFFICIENT and quality urban housing schemes are becoming necessary in the urban areas across the country due to the increasing demand for land by urban dwellers.
This is coupled by a massive devolution drive spearheaded by the Second Republic which will require decent housing facilities to the urbanites who will eventually be providing skills, expertise and manpower in their respective provinces.
Basically, the right to shelter is one that is specifically expressed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is part of the right to adequate standard of living and it eventually falls within the second category of human rights which are also known as the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Constitutionally, the Zimbabwean law is also as clear as daylight when it comes to this fundamental right. Section 28 of the Constitution obliges the state institutions and government agencies at every level to take measures within the limit of the resources available to them to enable every person access to adequate shelter.
Nevertheless, living in the urban areas has also emerged as a curse to many urbanites who have been victims of the chaotic, irregular and disastrous local governance systems under the leadership of the opposition which controls most urban councils.
The City Councils have been missing much in terms of service delivery, proper allocation of stands and enhancing efficient local governance services but has been very active when it comes to house demolitions.
Hundreds of houses have been demolished in areas such as Chitungwiza, Budiriro, Ashdown Park, Glenview, among other areas mainly basing on the fact that the houses were built on state land as well as on undesignated areas.
Land barons, who have also fleeced unsuspecting citizens of huge sums of money, have also emerged as obstacles hindering the effective and quality housing schemes which are much needed by the urbanites in light of several developments currently underway nationally.
However, the Second Republic has declared war on land barons.
The net has been widened which has facilitated the arrest of multiple land barons.
This attests to the unwavering commitment of the Government towards the realisation of quality and effective housing schemes affordable and accessible to the general populace.
In response to the plight of urban dwellers exacerbated by various housing schemes which were marred by irregularities, the Zanu PF Politburo recently resolved that it will step in to regularise all houses built on undesignated areas to minimise losses.
This is especially commendable especially at a time when a number of houses are built on illegal land mainly as a result of corruption and incompetence of the opposition-controlled councils.
This resolution is part of a broader policy trajectory that is anchored on widening the availability of land and arrest the ills which negatively affects this development in a move to foster efficient housing facilities in the urban areas.
The Urban Development Corporation Board was also established which is set to address a lot of irregularities within the urban housing systems by ensuring and empowering it to play an instrumental role in the provision of houses and related infrastructure across the country.
This is being initiated against a background where a long list of local government officials (Mayors, Town Clerks, Councillors and other officials) have been implicated in various corruption cases relating to the allocation of land.
They have also been found guilty of fraudulently grabbing or selling land whilst some have been conniving with land barons.
Acquiring land in urban areas has also been a daunting challenge for many as they have been on the waiting list for decades.
The board will therefore, serve as an instrumental tool directed towards equal provision of houses and to reduce disparities in line with other government policies and programmes on housing and infrastructure.
Government has also enacted a series of policy frameworks strategically crafted to critically address the land woes being faced by urbanites as well as to broaden the right to shelter.
The National Development Strategy 1 under the housing delivery cluster aims to deliver affordable and quality housing and expressly targets 220 thousand housing units for both rural and urban which are set to be delivered by the year 2025.
In complementing the NDS 1, the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP) was also recently launched and serves the purpose of addressing the housing and social amenities backlog as well as to redress the issue of illegal settlements.
The policy will also go a long way in renewing the colonially modelled housing schemes which are visibly noted in some of the oldest suburbs across the country.
The policy will ensure the availability of land in urban areas as it will utilise vertical construction which maximises use of land needed for urban expansion.
This will eventually see the Government being able to cater for a quantitative demand for houses in the urban areas and cripple the land barons who have been milking capital from the scarcity of land in urban areas.
Still on the same note, a plethora of housing projects have also been rolled out by the New Dispensation in line with its thrust which is aimed at promoting a decent housing facility.
This has been evidenced by the commissioning of Marimba flats for junior doctors as well as housing units for civil servants in Beitbridge.
A quality and equal housing scheme is a key component that will eventually contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030 and the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals.
The Government through various schemes and policy frameworks it activated is doing a splendid job and must be commended for the measures aimed at improving people’s lives.