The Sunday Mail
Harare City Council (HCC) is forging ahead with plans to demolish illegal structures in Harare South after a recent report indicated the buildings were located on undesignated land.
The settlements that will be affected include Granville Estate, The Rest, Churu, Lot 1 of Sub A of Lyndhurst, Nyarungu, Chizororo and Eyestone.
However, city fathers have given a reprieve to settlers at 15 other properties, who are now expected to regularise their settlements.
Currently, there is an ongoing inquiry led by High Court judge Justice Tendai Uchena into the sale of State land.
The probe is presently focussing on Harare.
HCC town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango recently told the Uchena-led commission that only three land developers — Fidelity Life Assurance, National Building Society and Hopley B Housing Cooperative — had followed due process in developing their properties.
The city’s chief planner in the department of works, Mr Samuel Nyabezi, also told the commission that a report commissioned by the local authority through Macdoh Planning Consultancy indicated that a number of structures were established on undesignated places.
It similarly recommended the demolition of the illegal structures.
Mr Nyabezi said: “There are two models of development that are being employed there (Harare South). Government also has a parallel development model, which allows people to settle while development of the land continues. But even in the parallel development model, water and sewer systems have to be there first before people settle. People who have not met city requirements are well aware that they can be removed any time.”
The city usually recommends that a road network be developed first before settlements begin.
Within the law
In the past, the city has been accused of illegally demolishing structures.
Harare Mayor Councillor Hebert Gomba, however, said the city would not demolish any structure without a court order.
A new system through which home-seekers would pay directly to the local authority, he added, would be established in order to prevent land barons from preying on them.
“This new scheme is different in the sense that in the past council would allocate a cooperative (land) and expected the cooperative to take as much time as they want to put up infrastructure. Now it’s council allocating land to a pay scheme, a congregation of individuals given allocation letters individually. They collectively pool resources to build infrastructure, and council is now the only institution allowed to look for contractors and inspect progress of work. Each scheme has an account,” he said.
Chairperson of Harare South Housing Apex Cooperative Society Mr Tonderai Nkomo said the City of Harare should conduct its planned demolitions within the confines of the law.
He, however, questioned why Eyestone was being targeted.
“Eyestone has been in and out of the courts and there was a High Court order stopping the city council from demolishing houses, so I am shocked.
“Last month, we agreed to regularise things for the people there and the city was ordered by High Court to compensate those whose houses were demolished in 2017,” said Mr Nkomo.
The Uchena commission seeks to establish the number of people who bought or benefited from State land, those who settled illegally, as well as investigate multiple allocations.
So far, the Harare City Council, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, Environmental Management Agency, Ministries of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, as well as Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement have appeared before the commission.
The probe is expected to wind up by October this year.