The Bulawayo City Council approved building plans valued at over $15 billion in May and June, at the height of the government’s “Operation Murambatsvina”.
According to statistics released by the council, it approved 182 plans valued at $7.9 billion in May and 197 plans valued at $7.4 billion in June.
Up until then, the value of plans approved had hovered around $3 billion a month, with total plans approved in the first half of this year totalling $29.5 billion.
The council approved plans valued at $18.6 billion for the whole of last year. It approved plans valued at $6 billion during the first half of 2004.
The Bulawayo City Council was one of the few local authorities that came out openly against the government’s “clean-up” programme, Operation Murambatsvina, which involved demolition of mainly urban dwellings and informal businesses, because several legal structures were destroyed during the exercise.
The operation was also criticised by United Nations (UN) special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, sent to Zimbabwe by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to assess the humanitarian implications of the demolitions.
The government has blasted the Tibaijuka report, claiming that only 133 534 families were affected by the clean-up operation and not the 700 000 mentioned by the UN envoy.
Statistics provided by the government showed that only 7 959 families in Bulawayo were affected by the clean-up operation, and that 4 904 illegal structures were demolished in the city.
The government said 70 000 houses or stands were required in the city but only 1 003 serviced and 10 997 unserviced stands were available as of July 8.
It said 4 915 illegal structures for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had been demolished. Bulawayo requires 10 740 structures for SMEs but only 46 have been serviced.