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Zimbabwe’s illegal urban settlements: A blessing or curse for government?

By Farai Shawn Matiashe
Posted on Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:29

Residents watch as municipal police demolish illegal structures during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harare
Residents watch as municipal police demolish illegal structures in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

In Zimbabwe, over 20,000 families are facing displacement from urban areas following a crackdown on land barons by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Many of these residential settlements were created under Mugabe, when the ruling party Zanu-PF used land in urban areas to lure voters.

Many residents today are earmarked for relocation after being hit by flooding following the heavy rains of 2020/2021. Others will be forced to move because their houses had been built near railway lines and under electricity cables.

“Cabinet noted that following a countrywide assessment by joint ministerial teams, the number of households facing displacement stands at a national total of 21,852,” information minister Monica Mustvangwa said while addressing journalists after a cabinet meeting in Harare in mid-March this year.