MUTARE City Council notified residents of its intention to convert houses in Maonde, Mundembe and Muchena sections of Sakubva to home ownership.
The notification made it clear that the houses will be sold to current sitting tenants and this raised suspicions that original tenants might be left out of the scheme.
Speaking to UMRRT, residents in Maonde commended the council for the initiative.
However, some expressed reservations and urged the local authority to address some pertinent issues before implementing the programme.
Mrs Tsitsi Katuruza, a resident, said the council should first sort out the issue of electricity in Maonde.
“We have had no electricity for 18 months now. It is proving to be a risk to us women. Women are being raped and sexually violated in public toilets at night because of darkness. We are appealing to the authorities to restore electricity in Maonde,” she said. Mr Joseph Ngorima, the sub-chairman of Sakubva Tenants Action Group Seeking Home Ownership (STAGSHO), commended council for the development, adding that it was long overdue.
“We started STAGSHO in 2008 when we saw the need for the people to own these houses which they had been paying for a long time. A total of 456 households agreed to be part of this programme and paid US$32 per household for a surveyor to conduct surveys in the suburb.
“The council did not have a surveyor at that time and recommended one for us who did a base mapping. The council took over the second stage of demarcations. Residents then paid US$100 for the title survey. Last year, council surveyed Maonde and marked demarcations. This year they said they will mark water and sewer lines.
“We request the council to construct individual toilets for each household because it is not possible to have a home ownership programme without individual toilets. We spoke to Mrs Mandiziba, the housing director, and she said for the time being council does not have funds for the toilets,” Mr Ngorima said.
Chitungo, Chineta, Mazhambe and Tenderere areas had public toilets before they were converted for home ownership.
When the council decided to sell the houses, it constructed individual toilets before initiating the homeownership programme. Mr Ngorima, an origional tenant at the Maonde house since 1982, emphasized the need for council to ensure that original tenants whose names are on the utility bills will be the beneficiaries, not sitting tenants.
Mr Lovemore Landinyu, a resident representing people living with disabilities, expressed great concern on the state of the houses and toilets.
“The houses and toilets are not disability friendly. The toilets are dilapidated and pose a huge risk to disabled people. Not having electricity makes it extra hard for me and affects the gadgets I use for aid as a blind person. When the council constructs these individual toilets, it must ensure that they are disability friendly” he said.
There are fears that the council might bypass the rightful tenants who are either old or have relocated to rural areas.
Mr Nicholas Mangoyana, whose grandmother lived in Maonde for many years, said: “Council moved around Maonde last week collecting phone numbers of tenants. That is where utility bills will be sent. Some tenants were giving out their own contacts, instead of those of the original tenants. I hope this is not a ploy to discredit the rightful beneficiaries.”
Mr Chasaya, a resident, said the council should transfer houses to original tenants without extra costs as they have been paying rentals since time immemorial.
“Making me pay a lump sum of money, when I have been paying rent for the past 20 years will be unfair. We are now old and unemployed. My pensions are not worth US$4 and that is is not enough to pay for the house,” he said.
Mrs Dorcas Kamusoka, another resident, said: “We hope the programme will be implemented by December 2021. We are hoping that this development will also hasten restoration of power supplies because we are really struggling without electricity.”
The general feeling among residents is that the homeownership is a good and progressive development programme which if implemented fairly to original tenants will benefit them.
“When you have title deeds, you can access loans, generate income and leave a legacy for generations to come,” said Mr Ngorima.
The residents said to ensure transparency, council should publish the list of beneficiaries so that if there are any objections to the list, they can be resolved before the programme is initiated.