Michael Chideme Municipal Reporter
Mbare hostels inhabitants are fed up with staying in squalid conditions and are imploring Government and Harare City Council to allocate them cheap residential stands to build their own homes.
Yesterday The Herald visited the hostels to have a first hand experience of life inside the dilapidated, filthy and over-crowded hostels.
Observations are that the residents use communal toilets whose flushing system was not working and bathrooms which double as kitchens and have laundry sinks.
People openly urinate in the bathrooms while others clean their utensils barely a metre away.
The ablution facilities cum kitchen with laundry sinks are so crowded that women often fight over space and turns to use them.
Water taps are always running implying that a lot of treated water is lost that way.
Broken sewers from floors above empty their “baggage” on floors below while in the toilets women seem to have abandoned the basics of secrecy.
They dump used sanitary pads expecting city cleaners to collect them.
Used condoms are also thrown everywhere, exposing children to health hazards.
At night some of the residents say they use the bucket system because of fear of venturing into the communal toilets in darkness.
Anything can happen there, especially for women.
In separate interviews yesterday, residents said they subdivided their one-roomed apartments with curtains and shared them with grown up children — some of them married.
There is no privacy at all.
Residents suggested that Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo and Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda should visit the apartments and come face-to-face with the squalid conditions.
Mrs Susan Munhundarima said the Government and the city should join hands and assist the inhabitants with residential stands.
“We are prepared to move if allocated residential stands elsewhere.
“We need our own ground (stands) to build. They should allocate us the stands first before they demolish these hostels,” she said.
Ms Nyarai Maulidi wants the hostels upgraded into family units because “her life is in Mbare”.
“All deals happen in Mbare.
“This is the economic nerve of Harare,” she said.
Mrs Chipo Chirimbayi said she was tired of hostel life.
“Since 1980 I have been on the city housing waiting list. I am yet to be served. I do not want to stay here. I want a place of my own,” she said.
Ms Anatolia Muvuyi said the hostels should not be demolished, adding reports of demolition had caused anxiety and stress.
Mr Darlington Chigudu wants to be allocated a residential stand. He said his colleagues were of the same view.
“If I get a residential stand I will be the first one to leave this place. I have joined several housing co-operatives and lost money,” he said.
Ms Mercy Masundo and Ms Mercy Sibanda support the idea of stand allocations.
Minister Chombo has proposed that the hostels be demolished to pave way for the construction of civilised apartments while Mr Masunda wants the apartments to be reserved for bachelors and spinsters.
On the other hand the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities says it has no immediate plans for the Mbare hostels because of financial constraints.
Ministry secretary, Mr David Munyoro, confirmed there was no money to either refurbish the apartments or build new ones under the urban renewal programme.
“We do not have a programme for the Mbare hostels at the moment,” he said.
Mr Munyoro said Government should build a set of new apartments first and move tenants from existing hostels into the new structures.
He said the old hostels would then be demolished to pave way for the construction of new ones that accommodate families.
More than 56 000 people, mostly the poor, live in the hostels.