February 6, 2023

Peace activism breathes life to Tinshel community

Zimbabwe Christian Alliance Gweru Peace Committee and Councillors visit the recently excavated stream at Tinshel Suburbs. Photo by Clive Makumbe

By Clive Makumbe

Most residents staying in the affected areas of Gweru admit to settling on wetlands without adequate knowledge of the impending consequences.

Settling on wetlands negatively affects the ecosystem. This disrupts the biodiversity and at large contributes to water problems. Most suburbs in Gweru face water shortages and sewer drainage problems.

Continuous development of wetlands play a critical role in easing their problems.

These problems associated with developing on wetlands lives one wondering about the competency of our town planners, engineers and land barons.

However, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance through their focal group, Gweru Peace Committee identified Tinshel suburb as one of the areas which were experiencing serious floods since its inception in 2014.

This was due to poor drainage systems that was not able to control the flow of water during the rainy season, were more than 70 households are located just three metres away from the shallow and narrow stream which is two kilometres long.

A Tinshel household built just three metres away from the stream. Photo by Clive Makumbe

Therefore, forcing some residents to flee from their homes in fear of water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and damage to their property.

Alford Makanga one of the victims who lives in the high density area said the problems they were facing were caused by poor workmanship.

“The floods that we face today have been due to poor drainage systems and the incompetence of our local authority. During the floods, I lost some of my property and the building materials such as pit sand, bricks, gravel.

“This community is at risk of water borne diseases and the foundations of our homes are weakening every season because of the water. Some houses are already cracking and we are in deep trouble,” he said.

Eunifer Chiremba also said the water that, was flowing out of the streams was getting into their homes and made it difficult for them to commute to work.

“The water back flowed into our homes destroying our property and dura-walls. We were forced to relocate from our homes to the nearest school for shelter because our homes were inhabitable.  There is now hope since Tinshel properties and Sheasham are working together, to ease the problems in our community,” she said.

Tinshel Properties Projects Manager, Manuel Chidaushe indicated that, the overflowing water from the stream was caused by heavy rainfalls.

He stated that, the ZCA Gweru Peace Committee approached them to deepen the stream inorder to accommodate more water during the rainfall season.

“ZCA local committee and District Administrator’s office gave their suggestions on how people would live peacefully without their houses being demolished. We had to deepen the stream so that the water that was flowing from Mkoba and Heavy Industries was controlled and channelled to its destination.

“Without getting into people’s homes,” he said.

“Since the deepening of the stream, it may pose problems to children in the area, therefore we will implement measures which include awareness campaigns and foot bridges for them to cross the stream,” he said.

ZCA Gweru Peace Committee, Coordinator Pastor Makore said the conflict in Tinshel suburbs was getting out of control and it was critical for them to mediate on the issue.

“There was serious tension between residents and land developers. Conflict was now reaching boiling point and it was critical for us to create an engagement platform to iron out issues.

“Tinshel was no longer a habitable area for any human being but now the property development has understood that the area had to be developed inorder to mitigate floods,” he said.

Moreover, Mayor of Gweru Cllr Josiah Makombe, Councillor Notal Dzika, Gweru District Development Coordinator Mr Tarisai Mudadigwa were present at the tour.

Early this year, President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa rebuked land barons and inept urban local authorities who allocated land and developed residential stands on wetlands, a move which saw more residential areas experiencing floods.

A national taskforce led by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was set to spearhead the restoration of sanity in most urban settlements.

With, Minister of National Housing, Daniel Garwe saying that, Government had already started auditing residential land allocation in all towns and cities to establish the total number of houses that would be affected by the relocations.