Local authorities in the Midlands Province have been directed to stop allocating land to private developers while a recommendation has been made to demolish over 100 illegal settlements that exist in cities and growth points across the province.
Addressing local authority officials from across the province at a meeting in Gweru recently, Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima ordered that about 25 home-seekers who were settled on wetlands be allocated alternative land by the responsible private developer by June this year.
“As you may be aware, this is a follow-up meeting to the recent State of the Nation Address by His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa on the unlawful and irregular settlements across the country and the subsequent meeting by Vice President Dr CDG Chiwenga on 5 February 2021,” he said.
“Pursuant to the direction given to provinces during the February 5 meeting in Harare, a provincial multi-sectorial team carried a comprehensive process of identifying and quantifying the extent of the problem of irregular and unlawful urban settlements across the province.
“The exercise confirmed that there are 100 urban dysfunctional settlements at outpoints, towns and cities in the Midlands province. Of these 25 are on wetlands.”
Minister Mavima said the illegal settlements were the major causes of flash flooding that hit Gweru city last month, and Government was working on correcting the issue and bringing to book some private developers who illegally parcelled out stands on undeveloped areas.
He said local authorities were now banned from allocating undeveloped pieces of land to protect desperate home-seekers from being swindled by land barons.
“I would like to underscore that the era of parallel developments in housing is gone. With immediate effect, no local authority shall allocate housing stands nor allow any housing development on unserviced land.
“For the benefit of people, any councillor, local authority official or private developer who may dare to do that shall be arrested and prosecuted for violation of the law,” he said.
Minister Mavima said in line with Government’s thrust to achieve an upper middle class economy by 2030, all illegal structures in the province should be removed while local authorities have been tasked to improve infrastructure.
District Development Coordinators and rural district council chief executives have been tasked with spearheading the removal of illegal structures identified across the province.
Minister Mavima said the performance of DDCs and RDC bosses this year shall be primarily determined by their capacity to drive the critical assignments.
“I expect baldness and effective leadership as you execute this task. I emphasise that this task is non-negotiable and must be achieved across the province,” he said.