Speaking at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Willowvale Flats Project, Phase II, in Highfileds Township in Harare, Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s regime erred by increasing the number of homeless urban dwellers through the operation which was condemned worldwide.
The Robert Mugabe regime justified the operation as necessary, saying it was in line with bylaws to stop all forms of alleged “illegal activities in areas such as vending, illegal structures, illegal cultivation” among others in its cities.
“The effects of Operation Murambatsvina are still being felt even until now,” said Tsvangirai. “I do not think it is good to destroy people’s homes until they have alternative accommodation no matter how poor those houses are.”
A report by a United Nations Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, estimated that some 700 000 people in cities across the country lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both.
Indirectly, a further 2.4 million people had been affected in varying degrees. Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children were made homeless, without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care.
Speaking in Shona, Tsvangirai said provision of housing for all was a challenge with Harare alone having a housing backlog of over 500 000.
Tsvangirai said that housing was one of the critical areas given high priority by the unity government which had provided US$25 million in 2010.
The housing programme was however, being affected by a shortage of building materials and lack of basic infrastructure services among others.
The Willowvale flat project will involve the construction of 15 blocks of flats with a total of 240 self-contained units each with a kitchen, lounge and two bedrooms.