Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
Representatives of housing cooperatives at Caledonia have accused Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere of abusing his office to allocate stands at the settlement to his cronies, making thousands of dollars in the process.
Caledonia was put under the management of the Urban Development Corporation, a parastatal that falls under the local government ministry, as part of measures to regularise the settlement.
Chairman of the Eastview Union Mr Livingstone Chikanga yesterday said Minister Kasukuwere used the Government’s decision to allocate land to his friends and also questioned how the money collected by Udcorp to develop the area had been used.
“Following the decision to handover management to Udcorp, he started allocating land to his people and that is when the problem of double allocation of land that we have now started,” he said.
“Even land that we had earmarked for schools and clinics was subdivided for stands, while some was sold to developers that want to set up private schools.
“There are over 38 000 households here, but we do not have schools for our children because all the land was sold.”
Mr Chikanga said despite the findings of the Percy Toriro-led commission into the affairs at the settlement that it was overcrowded, more people continued to be brought in, even when management was under Udcorp.
“Udcorp has been collecting $50 monthly from every household purportedly for development of infrastructure in the area, but all they have done is construct 1,8 kilometre of road from the targeted 4,2 km and that 1,8 km was poorly done that less than a year after its construction its already littered with potholes,” he said.
Mr Chikanga urged Government to carry out an audit of how the money collected by Udcorp was used.
“Even the clinic that is operational here was built by an NGO, MSF. So, we would really want to know how that money has been used all along.”
Mr Simon Kamhoti, the vice chairman of the union, said Minister Kasukuwere, who is also the Zanu-PF National Political Commissar, had also banned party activities in the area.
“He came in 2014 and banned party gatherings and slogans and even told us not to organise any party structures in the area,” he said. “As we speak, we do not have proper structures in the area, yet elections are around the corner.”
Mr Kamhoti said it was time that Minister Kasukuwere was removed from both his Government and party posts if any progress at Caledonia and growth of the party were to be achieved.
Minister Kasukuwere yesterday said he was not in charge of affairs at Caledonia.“Those people could just be land barons who were used to abusing people’s money,” he said. “Besides that, I am also not responsible for day to day running of affairs at Caledonia. That is the responsibility of the management committee.”
Caledonia started as an informal settlement with 126 cooperatives and is now home to an estimated 100 000 people.