The most expensive suburbs are those close to the university because they are the most sought after. Students pay between US$40 and US$60 dollars per person a month for accommodation even where more than five students share a single room.
Students renting outside the campus, located in Mashonaland West provincial capital, Chinhoyi, said the situation was pathetic but they had little choice. “As students, we understand the accommodation crisis but looking at the situation, we cannot blame the community because we came here to learn. Knowing that the school might have a high intake I blame the university authorities,” said one student.
One landlord, Taurayi Mungate of Cold Stream suburb, said he now survived on letting out rooms to students since he was retrenched. He was forced out of employment when the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) closed down a decade ago.
Mungate said high demand for accommodation was an opportunity to make money to feed his family. “It’s now a sort of employment if one has a house with many rooms,” he said. “Someone can actually survive without going to work. That is one of the benefits the community is deriving from the university although this disadvantages the students.”
Elderly Simhan’a Zinduru, who owns a house in Chitambo suburb, said some home-owners were letting a single room to an average five students. Zinduru said this exposed the students to contagious diseases like tuberculosis.
“You see four to six students crowded in one room. This compromises their health,” he said. Chinhoyi lawmaker Stewart Garadhi said the university was shortchanging the students by accumulating properties in the town and beyond for other purposes other than housing the students.
“The university authorities are busy buying properties, just recently they bought Orange Groove Hotel but they have idle land behind the university,” said Garadhi. “I don’t know why they are not considering the plight of the students.”
Garadhi said lecturers also faced the same plight.
Authorities say they’re doing their best
CUT dean of students Thomas Bhebhe, while confirming the accommodation crisis, said the university was trying its best to assist them. “The director of campus’s job is to take all the data of property owners in Chinhoyi, landlords and identify those who want to accommodate our students,” said Bhebe.
“He has that database and our students go through our director to get the accommodation they want.” He said this had made the lives of some students much better than having to move from door to door looking for accommodation.
CUT has over 5 000 students and only 1 500 live on campus, leaving the remainder to find accommodation in and around Chinhoyi. Some live in Banket, 25km away from Chinhoyi.