Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
Hundreds of former mineworkers who were facing eviction from their homes have been rescued by President Mnangagwa after a change of ownership almost rendered them homeless.
The majority of the workers used to work for the now-defunct Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) Minerals Zimbabwe (Pvt) (Ltd) and are residents in the towns of Chegutu and Norton.
After the collapse of BHP, another mining company stepped in and threatened to evict the former workers from their homes.
However, after being briefed of the workers’ plight President Mnangagwa intervened, giving the former mineworkers a lifeline.
Speaking in Chegutu last Friday during the Zanu PF Star Rally ahead of the 26 March by-elections, President Mnangagwa warned concerned mining companies against ejecting occupants.
“I have been informed by the provincial chairman (Cde) Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and (Chegutu West) Member of Parliament, Cde Dexter Nduna that some companies, including those that are into mining are seeking to evict the former workers. This should stop! You are not going to evict the occupants and this cannot be argued.
“I’m told that there are also many who have been occupying houses for close to 40 years paying rates but have not been given the chance to buy them. As the Second Republic, we have made it a point that all urban householders should be given title deeds so that the properties help them and the next generations.
“We cannot let people be evicted under our watch and these companies should be guided accordingly. Apart from making this firm decree that you shouldn’t be evicted; we are also going to ensure that you get title deeds,” the President said.
Last year President Mnangagwa launched the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP), to spearhead the development of modern and affordable urban and rural human settlements and social amenities in a co-ordinated and sustainable manner.
Plans are underway to issue life-changing title deeds for urban dwellers with the first batch of the security documents expected to be issued later this month.
Speaking after the rally, Cde Nduna told The Herald that residents in Chegutu Ward 2 and 11 had been facing an uncertain future before President Mnangagwa’s intervention.
“Regrettably, over two decades down the line, Zimplats is still to donate these houses to the former employees, some of whom are now deceased and left their dependants in occupation of the same . . . I hereby appeal to the President to intervene and direct Zimplats to donate the said houses to the tenants who are either former employees of BHP and or their dependants,” he said.
Cde Nduna told The Herald that there were hundreds of families in Ward 10 and thousands in Ward 9 that were occupying Elvington Mine and Chegutu Municipality’s houses for over 40 years but having no entitlement to the properties.
Zimplats undertook to donate housing units surplus to its requirements in the two towns to former employees who had been affected by the closure of BHP in 1999.
However, Zimplats through its lawyers Dube, Manikai and Hwacha legal practitioners, in January this year, were granted the right to evict one Simbarashe Muza who occupied house number 24200, Umvovo, Chegutu.
Muza, who is fighting eviction at the Supreme Court, claimed he has the right to occupy the residence as many other residents who were previously employed by BHP.
In various interviews conducted by The Herald, some former employees who have been staying in the houses since the late 90s applauded President Mnangagwa’s intervention.