Monday, October 17, 2005

Cleanless cleanup stuck

Three months ago the world watched in agony as the Zimbabwe's government and their goons in the police evicted thousands of urban citizens in the name of a cleanup. Homes, families and lives were shattered during the campaign, one of the most brutal of our time.

Never in want of a defense for any of their actions, Mugabe & Co. promptly countered the operation's critics with accusations that they (the critics) only wanted to see Zimbabweans living in filth and shacks. "We are going to build them homes," declared the boisterous regime. To them, the excercise was about restoring a dignity, which they aren't prepared to admit was lost, to the people of Zimbabwe

And they pretended to. But we knew this wasn't going anywhere.

So the world watched bemused as the regime declared the end of the cleanup. At the end of the "cleanup," they announced the onset of a full slate of operations meant to "expedite" the construction of homes and restoration of order. I wrote,
"Under operation garikai or live well, the government claims it will construct houses, micro, small and medium business facilities across the country by the end of August."
A trifling. Not only did the end of August pass with no homes built, but so did September, and now October. Nothing, nada. Instead, there were a few Now the tacit admissions have started to seep through. First, this from Sunday's paper,
"HUGE boulders at the construction sites of houses under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle in Harare have hindered progress on the ambitious project, with the number of beneficiaries falling drastically.

Construction engineers say it might take up to two years of blasting and clearing at Whitecliffe, Hopley Farm and Epworth before construction takes off on a full scale.

The Operation’s chairperson, Colonel Callisto Gwanetsa, recommended allocation of alternative stands.

Whitecliffe, which has the most boulders, has a target of 1 200 households but the usable land cannot accommodate them all.

"The project has no outside infrastructure like water and sewer systems," Col. Gwanetsa said during a tour of one of the sites recently.

"Activities like digging of water connection trenches and construction of a sewerage treatment plant, which are costly, will obviously prohibit construction of low cost houses."
And in Monday's Herald,
"LOCAL authorities should not deny private companies and individuals with their own resources, land to build houses, the Deputy Minister for Information and Publicity, Cde Bright Matonga, has said.

Launching phase two of the ongoing Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle at the Mbizo 21construction site in Kwekwe on Friday, Cde Matonga said the country had abundant land, which should see the building of more houses.

He urged local authorities to complement Government efforts in providing decent housing to the people.

Cde Matonga said the first phase was a wholly funded Government programme, but the private sector had since realised its success and it was now willing to join hands with the Government.

"The private sector is now chipping in with assistance for this noble project, unlike in the initial stages when some people had doubts. With this development, local authorities should make land available to all companies and individuals with money so that every Zimbabwean can have decent accommodation," he said.

However, Cde Matonga advised authorities to plan carefully, where houses would be built."
This was never about improving the people's lives.

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