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Zimbabwe: US$170,000 needed to bring Mbare’s dilapidated Shawasha flats back to habitable conditions

Stewart Musarapasi

HARARE – A team put in place to assess the refurbishment needs of the dilapidated Shawasha flats in Harare’s Mbare high-density suburb has put at US$170,000 the overall cost of bringing the flats to minimum habitable conditions, Africanvoice Global learnt this week. 

Africanvoiceglobal published an article on how about 8,000 people lived crammed in the 70-year-old flats now have to literally live with raw sewage, following failure by both the Harare City Council and national government to pay attention to their needs.

ALSO READ: Zimbabwe: 8,000 Shawasha flats families live on health time bomb, as colonial dwelling betrays 39 years of failure by the independent government

Project volunteer Panashe Bwoni, who set the ball rolling after she was touched by the plight of Shawasha flats residents following her visit there, together with her team of fellow volunteers, are now appealing to construction companies and individuals to assist with materials needed to refurbish the building. The team is also trying to mitigate the cost of labour, which makes a greater chunk of the money required.

According to an assessment report seen by Africanvoice Global, the flats’ sewer and water reticulation systems need a revamp which replaced all the pipes, the electrical system need re-installation and the flats need re-roofing that replaces the asbestos sheets with Chromadek IBR sheets.

There are maintenance needs on the damaged walls, floors and stair cases, all damaged door frames, window frames and shattered window panes need to be replaced, the rainwater disposal system needs to be renewed, new fittings procured and installed, the ceiling needs re-construction and the structure needs re-painting both internally and externally.

An inside view of a blocked toilet inside Shawasha Flats

Bwoni, alongside John Mutigwa and Oliver Chaindepi of Marondera-based OZONE Construction, an electrician and plumbing specialist, put together the report on the requirements.

“Each member of the team surveyed the building in their respective sector and put forward assessments and recommendations for the proposed refurbishment of the block of flats,” reads part of the report.

“The assessments were put together for one final report. A total of 12 blocks, which are all three-storey structures, constitute the Shawasha Flats. They are adjacent to the Rufaro Stadium. They were designed for bachelors, but they are now a home to many families. An average of 28 families with an average of seven members each are housed on each floor, translating to an average of 196 and 588 people per floor and per block respectively. This has led to overcrowding, exerting pressure as the population has exceeded the required capacity on the facilities.

“The structures were built using common bricks and the roof consists of asbestos roofing sheets on timber trusses. The structure communicates an overall impression of being structurally sound, the walls are plastered and painted but a detailed refurbishment work needs to be done especially on the sewer and water connection systems, roof, stair cases, glazing and paintings.”

It was observed that the structure was still structurally sound but a revamp on building services facilities was required. In addition, the building facility was found to be over-populated, resulting in poor and degraded facilities.

“It was observed that the Sewer system has now been dysfunctional for some time owing to the burst, ageing and worn out of the sewer pipes. There is not enough running water at Shawasha Flats and raw sewage spews from dysfunctional toilets. In several instances, steady streaks of slime trickle down the walls. A brutal odour is smelt on every floor of Block 12,” reads the report.

“Children ran around playing in the streams of sewer water gushing out of burst pipes apparently oblivious of the lurking dangers. It is proposed that the sewer reticulation system be revamped with the replacement of all the pipe work and construction of a Manhole (MH) in order to bring sanity. The electricity demand has proportionally increased to the increase in the population. This has created some problems on the installed Circuit Breakers. The need to balance the electricity requirements, has led to loose connections as the residents try to match the available sockets to the demand. The passage lighting system all the floors has been removed and diverted to high demand area/rooms. The installed 3 Phase Meter Box is now incapacitated to meet the current demand. It is proposed that the electric connections be revamped from chasing.”

Below are some of the findings:


The roof consists of asbestos roofing sheets on timber trusses with double pitched sections with ridges on the top. It was noted that in some cases there was evidence of leaks –possibly at roof level. These would need to be rectified to stop any further ingress of rain water into the structure. The stains on the 2nd floor are an indicative of a leaking roof. It is proposed that all asbestos be replaced by chromadek sheeting of IBR profile.


People now literally live with raw sewage in Shawasha Flats

The water reticulation system is in a bad state. The pipes have succumbed to age and lack of maintenance. The water taps have been stolen and many water supply pipes have worn out and there are leakages mainly in the bathrooms and laundries. The people carry out their day to day chores in a pool of dirty water in the laundries and bathrooms. It is proposed that the water reticulation system be revamped with the replacement of all the pipe work, tapes and showers.


The stair cases have developed some round edges making them slippery. This condition is not suitable for high volumes of human traffic of varying ages. The effect has had some negative impact on the occupants especially on the children and the elderly. Floors are also damaged due to lack of maintenance. These requires to be maintained.


A lot of broken window frames were observed especially on the toilet/bathroom section of this block, which some occupants attributed to lack of maintenance. Some window frames have been damaged due to corrosion and requires replacements. These are NE4s mainly on the toilets/bathroom section. In the same vein, some window panes have been shattered and require replacements. It was also noted that the gutters were now dysfunctional resulting in too much rain water gain access to the walls. The gutters are worn out and leaking and this is a result of lack of maintenance.


It was noted that toilet and bathroom door frames have worn out due to corrosion. The doors and locks were no longer available that the occupants have resorted to using sacks to cover the door space on bathrooms. It is proposed that the door frames, doors and locks be replaced.


“Both the internal and external walls were assessed, it was noted that the internal wall had minor damages compared to the external walls. Evidence of peeling off paint was noted on the external walls and being extensive damage was on the toilet/bathroom section. It is proposed that the walls be re-painted both internal and external.”

Panashe Bwoni volunteer of Shawasha Flats can be contacted at;

Cellphone. +263 776 634854


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