By Thandiwe Garusa
NEWLY-APPOINTED National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe has pledged to end the habit of citizens and officials within local authorities conniving to build structures on undesignated state and council lands even without the necessary amenities put in place.
Garwe, who was appointed minister during a recent cabinet reshuffle, was speaking to the media soon after being sworn in by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House on Monday.
The new cabinet minister said the widespread tendency by local authorities to let citizens build homes on wetlands, undesignated state land, moreso, without proper social amenities in place, would be a thing of the past under his tenure.
“This brought a lot of discord in the industry,” Garwe said.
“Building houses where there are no amenities, no schools, no shops, we are going to be looking into that.”
He added, “We don’t want people in urban areas to build pit latrines, small wells. That must be something of the past.
“We must provide services first before the house is built. By services, I am talking about the road networks, the sewer lines must be in place first.”
Garwe, who now leads a newly created government ministry, called on other stakeholders to help him realise his objectives.
“…To move together, it is a collective responsibility and not the minister alone but collective responsibility. All the stakeholders must be involved.
“It is a key result area from the government, key result area from me, key result area for my party, Zanu PF.”
Since the splitting of the Local Government Ministry, the National Housing portfolio will now be taking over the construction of houses which was formerly the role of local government.
“Local government is no-longer constructing houses. That responsibility has been taken to National housing.
“We are going to sit down with my colleagues and see how best we can work in harmony because it is about inter connectedness with different responsibilities,” said Garwe.
Ironically, during his tenure in the same portfolio, the President Mnangagwa oversaw the government sanctioned mass demolition of homes under the infamous Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.
According to then United Nations (UN) Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka, an estimated 700,000 people lost their homes, livelihoods or both between May and July 2005.