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Ginimbi: Decolonisation of the city

By Qinisani Qali Ndlovu

The name Genius Ginimbi Kadungure (May His Soul Rest In Eternal Peace) may have been synonymous with entertainment, punctuated by super cars, lavish parties and the finest of French liquid courage.

Aerial view of Ginimbi mansion in Domboshava (Wilson Kakurira Photography)
Aerial view of Ginimbi mansion in Domboshava (Wilson Kakurira Photography)

This caught the attention of many Zimbabweans, however, I was drawn towards the neighbourhood, communal tenure system and the massive structure the man called home. The architecture, aesthetics and ambience of the mansion are the dreams of many Zimbabweans. In death many saw a cult hero, who inspired hope for the least educated and proved that anything is possible with determination.

I had a slightly different view about the late, here was a man who normalised working in the city and living in a peri-urban settlement, completely decolonising urban living.

A youth who, in an era where such areas are reserved for our parents and grandparents, defied the status quo that the successful stay in the cities. In an era where the young urban professional fancies, a high end apartment or house tucked away in the leafy suburbs of the city, while frowning upon communal lands.

Then it hit me, could peri-urban settlements be the answer to the growing urbanisation problem amongst the youth in Zimbabwe?

Urbanisation, is described as the inward mobility of people into cities, the United Nations posits that from 2010 to 2050, Africa’s urban dwellers are expected to increase from 400 million to 1.26 billion.

The bulk of these being youths, who unlike the late Kadungure, cannot claim homeownership later on a piece of land. As of 2015, 67.7 percent of Zimbabwe’s population was said to be under the age of 35.

The term youth in this context is guided by the African Youth Charter which states that a youth is an individual between the ages of 15-35.

The growth of the urban population gives birth to a myriad of challenges, chief among these being access to land for housing.

It is common knowledge that the housing backlog in Zimbabwe is north of 1 million, largely informed by the waiting lists obtained from local authorities.

It has to be pointed out that the waiting list is flawed in itself owing to a number of factors, such as that it does not account for those who have not bothered to register with their local councils due to poor land and housing delivery.

From the figures put forward in this discussion, it becomes clear that the youth dominate waiting lists across the country, and judging from housing delivery are likely to migrate into adulthood without owning land or a house.

Peri urban refers to the interaction of the border of a city with its periphery settlements and are governed by a system of communal land tenure and customary land tenure (overseen by usabhuku), while in some instances administration of the land is done by Rural District Councils (RDC).

Formerly known as native reserves the name was changed to communal areas just after independence, though they may vary in distance and radius, the main economic activities are farming and animal rearing.

They are characterised by bigger stands/lots compared to urban areas, just to paint a picture to support this, the land on which the late Kadungure built his mansion is said to be equivalent to 54 high density stands.

Examples of peri urban settlements include the now famous Domboshava, Ruwa, Ntabazinduna and Esigodini just to name a few.

Exchanges of land within a customary tenure system involves inheritance of land through tribal lineage, or through cash sales, and renting.

Construction material quantities and costs in urban areas and communal areas remain the same depending on soil types, quality and location of material manufacture. The most common sewer system is the sceptic tank with boreholes/wells and storage facilities such as jojo tanks providing sources of water.

Lighting in many peri urban areas is supplied by ZESA, but off grid solar systems provide an alternative for those who can afford.

The red tape that is associated with construction in urban areas does not apply to Rural District Council areas or Communal areas, for instance the price of inspection fees in Esigodini is slightly cheaper than the fees one would pay in Bulawayo.

In communal areas, there is no height restriction when building a residential, whilst in urban areas only medium and low density areas have permission.

With a favourable economic climate leading up to 2030 and slow housing provision in urban areas, many youths might just see communal areas in a whole new light.

Ruwa, Umguza, Ntabazinduna and Esigodini, might experience migrant influx and rise in communal land transactions.

If ever there is a paradigm shift amongst youths in Zimbabwe when it comes to peri urban housing development, the late Genius Kadungure should be credited with making life “emakhaya” trend and look cool. SundayNews.