COMMERCIAL s€x workers, vendors and churches in the Karoi farming town are demanding residential stands as their basic human right.
Speaking during an engagement meeting organised by Pastors Fraternity, Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative and Media Centre last week, representatives of the groups said they were being excluded in residential housing stands allocation programmes.
Several meetings aimed at making office bearers, who include councillors and Members of Parliament, to be accountable to citizens were held in Hurungwe and Karoi town last week.
The meetings were attended by several stakeholders including vendors, sex workers, people living with disabilities, youths, women and traditional leaders, among others.
Doreen Mapfungautsi said the commercial sex workers have not been accessing residential stands in Zimbabwe.
“We are appealing to the Karoi Town Council to consider s£x workers for housing stands allocation at minimal fees. Some are tenants in the Chikangwe high-density suburb where grownups and children are sharing single rooms,” she said.
“Morally, it is wrong, but circumstances force them to do so. They need affordable housing stands so that they can build their own houses.”
Calling on council to prioritise them when they roll out residential stands in the town, Mapfungautsi added: “S£x work is part of employment and they need shelter of their own. Generally, s£x workers are looked down upon, but they are part of the society and we can’t wish them away.”
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations president Florence Chakabvapasi said vendors face various challenges from the local authority.
“Our members face challenges of being haunted within the central business district because the council has no proper designated areas for marketing our wares. It is a cat and mouse scenario,” she said, while appealing for the inclusion of vendors in residential stands allocations.
“Vendors are left out when housing stands are allocated to home seekers. Shelter is a human right, but is not respected by our duty bearers in Karoi town.”
A preacher Skimbuzo Sibanda raised concern over the high prices of church stands.
“We appeal to the council to charge reasonable fees to churches that are not on commercial business,” he said.
Karoi town council chairperson Kudakwashe Chigumo assured participants that stand allocations will be fairly done in future and the council was working on modalities of rolling out affordable serviced housing stands.
“Let me assure you all that every sector will be considered on housing stands as a basic human right. We need well-documented information because our council had no database of properties.
“We are on it as a council. We need to sell affordable stands, but priority is for locals who hardly own houses. Of late, accessing a residential stand has been a nightmare, but let it be known that council understands your concerns.
“Reality is that sex workers can afford to pay for residential stands as most of them are looking after their families in rural areas, while those who are formally employed can’t afford that,” Chigumo said.
Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative board chairman Joel Zilala said: “If we have so many burning issues among few people, it means as communities we must continue engaging each other for community development’”
In 2017, the then auditor general Mildred Chiri exposed the Karoi town housing department describing it as shambolic and fuelling corruption. Newsday