Funds for housing projects vanish

Itai Dzamara

CONTROVERSY surrounds the whereabouts of funds contributed by war veterans towards housing schemes in Harare, investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent have revealed.


In 2000 Zanu PF officials led the invasion of farms around Harare International Airport, along the Chitungwiza Road and in Waterfalls.


Prospective home-seekers were made to contribute to the new housing schemes. Structures that had been built illegally were subsequently destroyed by police amid promises by government that the home-seekers would be given alternative land in Harare.


The Harare City Council, led by executive mayor Elias Mudzuri, overturned decisions by the Elijah Chanakira-led commission to allocate stands to war veterans in the capital. The commission had allocated stands to war veterans in Crowborough North, Lochinvar and Warren Park.


The war veterans, who had contributed funds to cooperatives headed by party activists in the hope of getting stands, were told to wait for the council to allocate them, but this has been in vain. Some of them are now demanding reimbursement of their contributions.


Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association secretary-general Andy Mhlanga confirmed this week that most of the schemes had been abandoned but he said he was not in a position to comment on the whereabouts of members’ contributions.


“There are some schemes which were abandoned because the sites were not suitable for housing projects,” said Mhlanga. “We advised the Harare City Council and the Local Government ministry to relocate the affected people. We are not aware of any progress made on relocating the people.”


Mhlanga said the schemes were spearheaded by housing cooperatives independent of the war veterans’ leadership. He said his association only assisted in securing land.


War veterans who had contributed funds towards the housing schemes said they were not reimbursed their money, which sources said run into “hundreds of millions”.


“We contributed funds which were over $20 000 per person in 1999 towards the housing scheme near Harare International Airport,” said Steven Muzariri, a Harare a war veteran.


“The scheme failed to materialise and we haven’t been reimbursed our money. We are still waiting to hear from (Vivian) Mwashita who was the leader of the cooperative.”


When contacted for comment last week, Mwashita said she was not sure what became of the projects.


“No I’m not sure about that (monies),” said Mwashita. “I am only aware of one (housing scheme) that we used to run with the late (Chenjerai) Hunzvi near Granville Cemetery but I don’t know how it ended.”