Airport settlers defy Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s order to ministers to remove over 200 families, mostly Zanu PF supporters in Harare South, from an illegal settlement near the Harare International Airport has invited scorn from the settlers.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

The residents, who have been given until Tuesday to relocate after Mugabe raised objections to their settlement, told The Standard yesterday they were ready for a battle with authorities to protect their properties which they claim to have bought from government.

MUGABE EYE

Mugabe last week ordered his Cabinet ministers to clear off the area, saying the settlement was an eyesore and situated in an area meant for airport expansion.

But the residents were defiant and some were yesterday still building their houses, some of them so big they could be classified as mansions.

Titus Runesu is building a medium-sized house which is now at roof level about 200m away from the airport road.
Runesu said while Mugabe might have a genuine concern about the developments, his government was to blame as they allowed them to build the houses and even approved their building plans when they were aware that the land on which they were settled was not suitable.

“We did not allocate ourselves this piece of land. Government in 2005 gave us this land and we have been here since then; so for them to come today and want to remove us is surely an injustice,” he said.

“We did not build these houses overnight. We have been building slowly and they were quiet, but today they want us to go just like that, surely we are not slaves in our country.”

On Friday, government dispatched Miriam Chikukwa (Harare Provincial Affairs minister) who was in the company of Harare South MP Shadreck Mashayamombe to engage the people so they could be relocated to Retreat Farm in accordance with Mugabe’s directive last week.

The settlement is being administered by Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative.

While there are many proper houses that have been constructed or are under construction, the site gives a view of a haphazard “squatter camp” as it is largely composed of makeshift structures.

Mugabe, who was cutting the ribbon to officially open the first phase of the Harare International Airport Road last week, looked at the settlement and was not impressed. He said the settlement tarnished the image of the country and the settlers should be immediately relocated.

Mashayamombe said the settlers have until Tuesday to start moving their properties and raze down their structures before being resettled at Retreat farm in Waterfalls.

“They will move. We are engaging them and we are hopeful that they will go to a suitable place which is convenient for them as well as government. This is a directive from the president and we can’t ignore it,” Mashayamombe said.

“We have identified land for relocation and they have Monday and Tuesday to start moving from that area.

“We went there with the minister for Harare province Cde Chikukwa and agreed with them that they should vacate the area as directed by the president.”

Although some of the settlers are genuine members of the housing cooperative, Mashayamombe said there were many others who were illegal occupants. He said most of these had just moved onto the farm from Epworth.

But the residents in question said; “today we are illegal but during election time we were important”.

The Airport Road settlers are among many other Zimbabweans who have been duped by Zanu PF officials and land barons taking advantage of their desperation especially during election times.

When The Standard visited the area on Friday afternoon, most of the settlers looked unsettled and worried.

The government officials, including the provincial minister and local MP had come to address and advise them of their impending relocation.

“It’s tricky my brother that we have to leave this area considering circumstances that surrounds our stay here.
“We came here because of Zanu PF but we are now being told to leave the area by the same people. Anyway I can’t say much to you guys.

“We will see how to handle the situation,” said one Petros Kavhukatema as he walked out of the meeting that had been addressed by Chikukwa.

Some of the settlers, especially those that had just put up makeshift structures could be seen pulling down their ‘houses’ while others declared they were determined to fight.

As The Standard news crew drove through the settlement in the afternoon yesterday, grief stricken settlers appeared suspicious of strangers and refused to give interviews.

One of the women leaning against the wall of her hut asked the motive of the news crew.

“What are looking for here? This is not a playing ground my brother, there is no through road near my house go back and use the other road,” the woman shouted in anger.

Zanu PF linked housing cooperatives control most of the new settlements around Harare and some of the so-called land barons were arrested early this year.

14 Responses to Airport settlers defy Mugabe

  1. Nesongano November 29, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Vachirikuita havo zvekutamba. Vachabva vachimhanya kana nguva yakwana. Hazvinei kuti hurumende yakati vakai ipapo, mapaper avainawo vakaapihwa nemakoronyera. Zviri kutaurwa ndezvekuti nzvimbo yakaiswa dzimba idzi inzvimbo yekuvandudza nhandare yendege

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  3. confused November 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    The whites introduced paperwork like title deeds for a good reason. if you buy land with lack of or inadequate paperwork and invest 20 000 then want to cry, i am sorry for you! if you are able to raise 20 000 you can easily raise a few hundred to consult a lawyer or reputable estate agent! we Zimbabweans need to stop being naive when it comes to land and property! how do you buy land in such an area for 4 000 and not suspect that something is amiss when a high density stand is 8 000 and above!!! These are chancers and gambling is a high risk exercise which can see you losing everything!!

    • Nutty November 29, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      You’re confused for real real. Why should government land even cost $4k when some Zimbabwe as are getting it for free? It is possible through housing coops to get land even cheaper than $4k if genuine home seekers are in charge of servicing their own lands. It’s only when profit driven capitalist privatise public goods like lands when you want to convince us that land is expensive. … its NOT. Land in Zimbabwe belongs to the STATE (except sections of urban land) why should we be paying a fortune for STATE land?

  4. Tengenenge November 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    So author expected a settlement to disappear in one week. MBOKO.

  5. Nutty November 29, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    If you go and check with City planning you can easily find out that a section of the land under discussion is designated for residential purposes. Stop bashing the poor who got access to land designated for residential purposes. The President is wrong on this one. If the airport takes all the land then wouldn’t it make sense to remove Hatfield and Manyame? There is a marked boundary where the airport land ends and that boundary is NOT Harare drive as suggested by some ignorant people mascarading as informed. Most people including the reporter are arguing out of ignorance when you can go and easily verify the planned use of this land- its public in formation! !!!….. anyway wasn’t the land close the national sports stadium a wetland? Why is China Mall still therev? Crocodile tears from the privileged.

    • Susan November 30, 2015 at 1:15 am #

      Nutty is right but any planning was carried out by previous white governments. Since 1980 authority has existed at the discretion of Mugabe . Planning dies not exist beyond five minutes in time and can change at any moment depending upon how heavy someone’s purse is.

      • confused November 30, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

        For information i am a member of a housing coop in Harare South and we are now being made to pay heavily for that land! I only built a modest structure because there was no paperwork yet! i have invested what i thought i could bear to lose in the circumstances!

  6. Nutty November 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    We must honestly and fairly discuss land access in Harare and the rest of Zimbabwe. There are people who have housing stands near or over 1 hectare. Why does one need a hectare for a house in urban Harare? There are several private housing scheese all over Harare, who owns these companies, how did they get this land? It is public secret that this land belongs to the politically connected who get it for free from government and they subdivide and sell it for thousands. Under Minister Mhashu during GNU in 2011, people who were no longer civil servants were asked to vacate government housing, why did Zanu PF resist this? Zimbabwe has no intelligible and coherent housing policy and especially low income housing. We are busy replicating colonial private housing schemes that privilege the already privileged. Genuine housing cooperatives have been the only available housing option to the low income. Large sections of Harare have been built by cooperatives, Mabvuku, Hatcliffe, Kuwadzana, Dzivarasekwa, to name a few have thousands of houses built through housing coops. If you are not a member of a housing coop, you are privileged, don’t think you are clever. Not everyone can afford the $20k stands with title deeds some use as examples.

    • confused November 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

      Its a free country so feel free to gamble your money away. The Government is proving unreliable and you continue to trust in cooperatives which cooperatives the same government is turning its back on now! . No one is against land for all at reasonable prices but not when it is for a selected connected few!

      Build and watch it get demolished, i will be laughing….

      • Nutty Reloaded December 1, 2015 at 12:55 am #

        We are a nation of morons if we find it a laughing matter to demolish than to build. Cooperatives exist in many countries and have been found to be effective ways to reduce costs when ‘genuine’ members ‘cooperate’. For the record, Zimbabwe has the best housing cooperatives in Africa and only out performed by India and Brazil. Of course, currently In Zimbabwe we no longer have cooperatives but ‘Land Barons’ and these are members of ZANU PF that have over run a genuine bottom up movement by ordinary citizens. In our stupidity and through the ignorant over-zealousness of Tyson, we are throwing away the baby with the bath water. ZANU PF is busy dismantling a model that is one of the best in Africa because of its greediness and stupidity. My cry is for ‘genuine’ cooperatives to continue operating and to be there as an option for anyone who need them. I hold no brief for ‘land barons’ but for ‘genuine’ cooperatives driven by the common citizens willing to progressively invest sweat equity in building their own houses.

        • confused December 1, 2015 at 9:16 am #

          When you say “genuine” i agree with you 100%. No arguments. But we all know whats happening on the ground.

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