Mutsekwa told newspapers, including the Zimbabwe Independent, at the beginning of last month that he would evict the former government employees to make way for current ministers who have no official accommodation.
This puts into question Mutsekwa’s ability to remove Zanu PF officials occupying state houses at a time when President Robert Mugabe is firmly in charge of the coalition government.
Serving ministers have resorted to staying in flats in the Avenues area due to shortages of official accommodation. Mutsekwa’s MDC-T party formed a coalition government with Zanu PF and political observers say Mugabe’s party wields more power than its counterparts.
Asked this week if he had succeeded in evicting the former officials, Mutsekwa was non-committal.
He said he had finished compiling a comprehensive report of the undeserving beneficiaries of government properties but could no longer say when he would effect evictions.
“I have all the information at hand now. I now know who is staying where. I am now marching towards eviction,” Mutsekwa said in an interview on Tuesday. “I can’t name people still occupying the houses although evictions are imminent.”
Mutsekwa, a former co-Home Affairs minister, is one of the several cabinet ministers without official accommodation.
Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Gorden Moyo, Minister of Water Resources Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and Minister of Public Works Joel Gabbuza are living in a block of flats in the Avenues, Harare’s haven for prostitution and drugs.
Apart from former ministers, widows of the late vice presidents, Joseph Msika, Maria Msika and Maud Muzenda are still occupying government houses.
Mutsekwa said it was “unAfrican” to evict widows of former vice-presidents because they were occupying the properties as a result of their husbands’ former positions in government.
He said the president, vice presidents and the prime minister had houses built for them and their families would continue benefiting even if one such leader dies.
“We don’t want to be seen to be evicting widows. It’s unAfrican,” said Mutsekwa who is also renting a house due to lack of official accommodation. “We should always respect the leaders even if they are dead.”
The minister told the Independent last month that he would personally evict the former ministers while other former top civil servants would be dealt with by officers from his office. The houses would then be reallocated after the evictions.
It is government policy, according to Mutsekwa, that ministers and senior civil servants, especially from outside Harare, get official accommodation soon after being appointed.
The cash-strapped government is splashing US$1 000 in rent for each minister at a time when former officials are clinging to the properties.
When they were appointed, ministers from outside Harare were accommodated in expensive hotels and were eventually pushed out as government moved to cut expenditure.
Almost all MDC ministers are without official houses, and the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, an MDC official, is also living in a rented house.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was only allocated a house in Highlands after President Mugabe refused him access to Zimbabwe House. Tsvangirai is still living at his family home in Strathaven because the Highlands house is undergoing renovations.