On the undulating landscape of Seke communal lands, 30 km from Harare, an imposing villa stands erect with red tiles signalling changing times to a rural community that has now been swallowed by rapid urban expansion.
Seke villagers who have fallen through the cracks due to urban crawl are yearly faced with hunger because their land has been taken over by new home seekers. Desperate to eke out a living families have now resorted to selling their farmland. They say it’s better than nothing.
The story of villagers who have moved to Chitungwiza is a familiar tale of people who live in peri-urban areas such as Chiweshe, Domboshawa, and Harare’s hinterland. The effects of urbanisation have been horrific on the people, with villagers falling through the cracks in the face of an urban expansion that is fanned predominantly by the rich.
Changing rainfall patterns have worsened the plight for villagers who now rely on growing vegetable for resale in urban areas. Even though Seke lies in the agricultural favourable region two, overpopulation and over use have left the land barren. Additionally, beside losing their land, former rural villagers are fast falling prey to the urban havens of vice and disease.
Approximately 75% of Zimbabwe’s population is rural. But, every time there is a drought in Zimbabwe, a large number of peasants head for the towns nearest to their rural areas and settle there as best as circumstances permit. Yet, they suffer, with little or no provision of the most important needs of every new urban community - clean water, accommodation, roads and facilities for the efficient disposal of people's waste and refuse. Most of the new settlements do not have the essential facilities according to town planners.
Our rural poor are now part of the swelling mass of the urban poor and with little help for the future.