Surrounded with iconic buildings in the form of a multi-million-dollar museum of African Liberation under construction and the National Sports Stadium of Zimbabwe, is an isolated land of extreme poverty, marginalisation, despair and uncertainty.
More than 30 families live in tattered houses that are made from plastics, poles and card boxes without ablution facilities and the place has literally become a dump site.
They survive from hand to mouth through picking plastic bottles which they sell to entities that are into plastic recycling.
Simon Arufasi who resides in the squatter camp stated that,” I started residing on this place since the time we were removed from our earlier squatting camp where we were removed so as to pave way for the construction of a museum”.
“We used to stay in the precincts of the museum which used to be an unutilised land and when the construction of the museum started, we were ejected and told that if we ever return will be arrested for trespassing”, said Arufasi.
Arufasi went on to say that they were picking up empty bottles as a form of self-employment, but the business was not that lucrative and pleaded for Zimbabweans to assist them in whatever way and form they can.
The Museum of African Liberation is meant to allow Africans to tell their own history, putting to rest, one sided Westerncentric narrative which have dominated the public sphere.
Ironically in effort to shape an African narrative to African History, Africans problems and suffering are overlooked in an effort to appear magnanimous to the other world.
Tinashe Manhivi stated that,” the prices we get paid after selling the used plastic is extortionate, they know we are desperate for money for upkeep, and they charge between $0,05 to $0,45 United States Dollars per Kg depending on the type of the plastic containers”.
“The prices could have been rational if the buyers were providing transport to carry the garbage, but having to hire transport to the sales floor, you will end up with nothing left at the end of the day”, Manhivi said.
Manhivhi went on to say that, “responsible authorities should assist the squatters with birth registration as most of the squatters and their children do not have any form of identity and it will be a whole generation without identity if no action is taken”.
Manhivi used to reside at Pomona dumpsite looking for materials for recycle before it was taken over by German investor, Geogenix BV to transform the dumpsite into a waste management project, a deal courted with controversy.
All the squatters at Pamona were forcibly removed with the Zimbabwe Republic Police and no alternative accommodation or employment was offered and some of their valuable property in form of recyclable materials were lost along the process as many of them were arrested.
“I started the recycle business in 2016, and I have nothing of benefit to show, I do not have any decent place to stay, any decent clothes to wear, I do not have anything to eat and on top of that I do not know what the future holds as we are residing here not sure when the authority will come and eject us again”, Manhivhi summed up his situation nearly in tears.
School going children in the camp are not attending school since the parents cannot afford school fees and other school requirements and the children do not have birth certificates.
Effort are still underway to get in touch with various authorities so as to ascertain their position on these marginalised members of Harare community.