Earlier this year, in February this publication ran an editorial comment applauding the government coming up with a wetlands master plan that sought to identify all irregular and dysfunctional settlements in local authorities.
The exercise comprised of verification of flood-prone areas, irregular settlements on land suitable for urban development and a mapping exercise for ecologically sensitive areas that require sustainable environmental management.
The article highlighted that the master plan came against a background where illegal settlements have been rife owing to political motivations, the proliferation of land barons, sleeping on duty local authorities and corruption.
To that effect, during the last cabinet briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa proffered journalists on the update that was given to the cabinet by the chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, Vice President Chiwenga.
From the update, it was highlighted that in the first phase of this exercise the committee managed to identified and quantified a total of 31 257 households that are residing in dysfunctional and irregular settlements and came up with a National Wetlands Map and Policy for Zimbabwe.
The Minister said following the successful completion of Phase 1, the Committee will now commence Phase 2 of its interventions.
“Phase 2 will focus on the accelerated implementation of measures to address the irregularities and dysfunctionalities that were identified during the first phase, to achieve the Government’s objective of delivering 1.5 million low to medium-income housing units over the period 2018 to 2030.”
A little insight into the history of this promise will help in debunking this dream.
In the run-up to the 2018 elections, the ruling party promised to build up the same 1.5 million houses in five years, implying they would build an average of 300 000 houses per year.
By 2020, the target had already been reduced to 100 000 a year but the relevant ministry said only 20 000 to 30 000 a year would be feasible.
This is a target they have failed to meet by far too and now the target has been transferred to the 2030 vision.
Maybe at this point, the government needs to be realistic about its promises rather than taking its citizens on a wishful horse ride in the sky.
It’s not just about flashy numbers, but at least delivering on the promises given to the people.
This is notwithstanding the fact that there are still some legacy issues from the Robert Mugabe era where there are still infrastructure deficits on the Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle settlements across the country.
This has to be said again, the government must be hands down to ensure a fast-tracked process to develop an all-encompassing administrative tool for local authorities and the national strategy on preserving wetlands and other sensitive areas.
As the rainy season is also fast approaching, addressing the accommodation needs of families or households settled in flood-prone areas must be prioritized.