EDITORIAL COMMENT: New housing scheme a timely relief

Minister Kasukuwere

Minister Kasukuwere

WE welcome the announcement by Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere that Government will soon unveil a housing scheme to protect people from unscrupulous land barons who have fleeced home-seekers of millions of dollars by selling them land in undesignated places.

The announcement that comes on the backdrop of a spate of demolition of houses in undesignated areas should come as a relief to home seekers who will see their dream of owning a home come true. Government, in line with the targets set in Zim-Asset, should indeed take the lead in giving affordable housing to the people.

The economic challenges that have hounded the country since the turn of the millennium stemming from the illegal Western sanctions regime, have made ours a virtual cash economy with banks only beginning to offer mortgages after the dollarisation of the economy in 2009. Many people, thus, could only dream of owning a house which is not only critical as shelter, but also comes in handy as collateral.

We also hail Government for the ongoing clampdown on land barons who are now being made to answer for their actions. In this campaign Minister Kasukuwere has taken a fair and rational stance that should see compensation coming from those councillors, officials and land barons who organised and benefited from the illegal land sales.

This approach satisfies the two requirements that any just solutions would demand, that those who caused the mess and profited from it are made to pay to clean it up, that those duped are to keep a roof over their heads while the mess is cleared up and have their money back to build elsewhere if this is necessary. To this end, we urge council to be vigilant. The city fathers should always know what will be happening in their areas so that any illegal settlements can be nipped in the bud before they grow.

It is much better to stop an illegal structure being built in the first place than trying to knock it down once it is there, especially when there could be a lot of unnecessary suffering caused by a hasty demolition. At the same time home-seekers should know that ignorance of the law is no defence as councils can demolish their houses without compensation. Home-seekers must always verify with council if any stand they are buying, or co-operative they are joining is legitimate.