PM Statement to Mayors

Remarks by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, The Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai, at the occasion of the meeting with mayors on national housing challenges

Moragn Tsvangirai
Moragn Tsvangirai

Harare, 21 July 2011

Government ministers here present

Mayors from across the country

Members of the diplomatic corps

Partners and development agencies

Ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to be part of this great gathering today to deliberate on the ways to ensure that Zimbabweans in urban areas get decent shelter and accommodation.

I will not be delivering a speech today, because this is not an occasion for speeches.

This is an occasion for honest dialogue amongst all the stakeholders to look at the challenges facing us in the provision of housing for all our citizens.

As government, we are committed to the provision of decent shelter to the people of Zimbabwe and the fact that we have a full-fledged Ministry of National Housing is testimony to our commitment.

Housing is a strong stimulant for growth, with high multiplier effects on the economy because it creates jobs. The provision of adequate family housing is a key element in fostering a secure and settled urban population that stands by family values.

We must have a sustained national programme to establish low-cost family accommodation in order to eliminate the housing backlog that I know is a common story in all cities and towns.

Central government might not have the fiscal space to undertake a comprehensive national housing programme. This leaves local authorities and the private sector with a key role to play in executing this urgent national assignment.

As mayors of our cities, I know you are at the epicenter of this important national responsibility to ensure that we all have decent roofs over our heads.

I am also aware that all urban councils are grappling with long housing waiting lists and today, we want to share our headaches and ensure that we discuss the challenges we face in this daunting national task.

I know the anxiety that is gripping every one of those people on the long housing waiting lists, each one of them wondering when they will get a house of their own.

We have all been tenants (maroja) at some point in our lives. Only two weeks ago, I paid a visit to my former humble lodgings at Chisamba Single quarters in Sakubva.

That single room was my prized accommodation as a bachelor way back in 1973 when I worked at a textiles company in Mutare.

When I paid a visit to that place a fortnight ago, I saw families living in one-roomed apartments and I know it is the same familiar story in most towns and cities across the country.

So we meet today on this assessment mission on housing development.

I am interested in this important national issue and as part of our conversation today, we want to hear progress or lack thereof in the various towns and cities across the country.

We also have in our midst other government ministers and departments who deal with finance, energy, water and lands because these are critical enablers in housing developments.

We may want to discuss issues of corruption in the allocation and disposal of stands and houses.

I know that traditionally, housing co-operatives, building societies, the World Bank, UN Habitat, NSSA and others have made a significant contribution in this regard.

More importantly, we must all ensure that whatever housing programme we come up with is affordable to the majority of our citizens.

I am aware that under the land reform programme, some people parceled out prime land to themselves and are now land barons, owning vast tracts of land while councils struggle to find land for housing developments.

Others are multiple farm owners and own large farms in municipal boundaries when we all know that councils must get the priority in land allocation because they have the bigger responsibility of serving the housing needs of the majority of the people.

As I said in the beginning, this is not an occasion to speechify.

This is an occasion for an honest conversation amongst ourselves to look at the challenges facing us so that we may find a solution to the housing needs of millions of Zimbabweans who need a roof over their heads.

The people out there expect us to find a lasting solution to their housing problems.

As we dialogue amongst ourselves on this important issue, let us remember the homeless, the tenants and the millions on our housing waiting lists who want decent accommodation for their families.

Let us remember those shacks in our towns, the stark reminders to the daunting task we face in providing affordable accommodation to everyone.

Let the dialogue begin.

I thank you

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