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IRIN Africa | Southern Africa | SWAZILAND | SWAZILAND: Urban cleanup response to unplanned settlements | Democracy-Economy-Environment | News Items
Tuesday 21 February 2006
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SWAZILAND: Urban cleanup response to unplanned settlements

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

MBABANE, 31 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - The bulldozers are set to move in this week to clear a string of informal urban settlements as the Swazi government and local authorities clamp down on unplanned housing.

Forty homes have been earmarked for demolition in the Madonsa settlement, a tract of peri-urban land bordering the central commercial town of Manzini, 35 km east of the capital, Mbabane.

A further 100 homes at Ludzidzini royal village, 20 km east of Mbabane, also face destruction. The Ludzidzini residents are to be evicted to make way for an extension of King Mswati's home, to accommodate his growing number of wives and their children. The king now has 13 wives.

Residents did not challenge their evictions, and hoped they would be provided with a resettlement allowance. But no promises were made to them by the royal authorities, and the evictees face stiff competition for new homes in the housing crisis gripping the Mbabane-Manzini corridor.

The Madonsa community, however, has taken the Swaziland National Provident Fund (SNPF) to court to stop their evictions. The SNPF is a government parastatal responsible for low- and middle- income housing construction.

SNPF CEO Mathokoza Mtetwa said the Madonsa land was part of a farm purchased by the fund, and earmarked for housing construction. Residents countered that they purchased the land by paying gifts to the area's chief.

Swazi chiefs derive their power from their authority to grant land, increasing the number of their subjects. By custom such land grants are for rural plots, enabling a family to live as subsistence farmers, plant crops on a small field, and graze a small herd of cattle on communal land.

Increasingly, chiefs are selling plots adjacent to urban centres, giving rise to unplanned townships that have created a ring of informal settlements around Mbabane and Manzini. There are no roads, sewage, electricity or water connections, and pose a health risk to residents, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has declared.

Mbabane and Manzini city authorities have announced plans to evict residents of informal townships in areas that are flood prone. Plans are underway for other informal settlements in urban areas to be developed with infrastructure put in place, under a housing ministry initiative partly funded by the World Bank.

However, city councils have no authority to address runaway unplanned housing growth under the supervision of chiefs that are beyond urban boundaries. Eighty percent of Swazis live on communal Swazi Nation Land, and 20 percent are urban residents.


 Theme(s) Democracy-Economy-Environment
Other recent SWAZILAND reports:

Young heroes website appeals for help for AIDS orphans,  13/Feb/06

New constitution unclear on political parties,  8/Feb/06

Renewed bombings despite detention of suspects,  7/Feb/06

No end in sight to food shortages,  7/Feb/06

Marijuana - hope for the homeless,  3/Feb/06

Other recent Democracy-Economy-Environment reports:

ZIMBABWE: Municipalities struggle to provide basic services, 6/Dec/05

BURKINA FASO: Government distributes cut-price grain to help ease hunger, 24/Jun/05

NIGERIA: Obasanjo appoints independent mediators to reconcile Shell and local Ogoni community, 1/Jun/05

LIBERIA: Former rebel fighters dig for diamonds, small-scale mining on the up, 27/May/05

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