Scores of families in Caledonia have been ordered to vacate their houses built on sites reserved for schools or risk having the properties demolished.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima made the ominous warning during belated celebrations marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Caledonia this week.
This comes after government received half-a-million dollars from a non-governmental organisation to build a school in Caledonia, only to get there and find that all the 17 sites earmarked for schools had been illegally occupied.
The giant informal settlement — home to 100 000-plus people — currently does not have any formal schools.
Makeshift structures, manned by untrained teachers and without proper ablution facilities and running water, and no prerequisite learning materials make up the bulk of schools in the slum settlement east of Harare.
“When people started settling in Caledonia, there were over 13 000 families, by now these families have children that need to go to school. There are no (formal) schools in Caledonia,” Mavima told the gathered crowd.
“The other problem is that of land barons parcelling out land earmarked for schools. Last year, we failed to construct a school after we received $500 000 through a joint venture.
“So we have agreed that for the 17 school sites, the people settled there should be removed, so we build schools. Our biggest call to the people of Caledonia is that vacate from school sites before we send police to remove you. Children cannot be travelling out of Caledonia to go to school.”
Caledonia — which now falls under the management of Harare City Council (HCC) — has over 29 195 stands, a population larger than Bindura.
The suburb has been ravaged by massive land scams and fraud amounting to more than $60 million.
The unavailability of formal schools in Caledonia has also inadvertently seen a spike in child prostitution, with Zanu PF Harare East Member of Parliament Terrence Mukupe recently confirming that child prostitution was rampant in the area.
A visit to Caledonia by the Daily News confirmed that some girls were being paid $0,50 in exchange for se_x with men.
The situation means Zimbabwe is falling short in fulfilling children’s rights recognised by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments
Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child commits UN member States to “ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child”.