Government urged to find alternative accommodation before demolitions

The Zimbabwean government has been urged to find alternative accommodation for people whose houses were constructed illegally on land designated for other purposes, especially in Chitungwiza and Seke communal lands. This came up during debate in Parliament on Wednesday calling on Government to arrest people who sold council land illegally and find other remedial measures that will not expose affected people to weather extremes.

Contributing to the debate that was moved by MDC-T representative for Zengeza East Mr Alexio Musundire, Zanu PF legislator for Harare South Shadreck Mashayamombe, said there were ways of regularising some of the settlements.

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“While I agree that those who sold land illegally should be arrested, there are other areas like at Hopley and Caledonia where planning was done by the Department of Physical Planning and all the documentation are there.

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“The stands were pegged but not serviced and some people who had not been allocated stands ended up building indiscriminately. Government can therefore carry out topographical survey to determine plans for water and sewer reticulation and other infrastructure like electricity and that way we can save a significant number of houses from demolition,” Mashayamombe said.

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 He took a swipe at Mr Musundire for trying to politicise the issue when MDC-T councillors were at the forefront of allocating stands illegally in Chitungwiza and some parts of Budiriro and Glen View.

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In his debate, Mr Musundire said a number of land barons who converted council land to personal use in Chitungwiza were known but nothing was being done.

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He accused Zanu-PF councillor for Chitungwiza Ward 25 for converting a number of stands meant for churches, schools into housing stands.

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Mr Musundire, however, said Government should not demolish the houses without finding alternative accommodation.
“The police should arrest those who are in the business of selling council land illegally but should also do it while respecting the rights of the house owners,” he said.

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Mabvuku -Tafara representative Mr James Maridadi, said as a long term measure, Government could facilitate pension funds to construct low-cost houses for the poor and also give borrowing powers to councils so that they service stands.

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Government set up an audit committee to probe land sells in Chitungwiza and it has already completed its task. The report will be presented to Cabinet and recommendation on the way forward is expected after that process.