Harare slums face demolition

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HARARE – Harare City Council (HCC) will  on Wednesday initiate a clean-up campaign targeting illegal structures, officials have said.

Tendai Mahachi, the Harare town clerk,  told a press conference at Town House yesterday that the campaign, which is set to begin on November 4 in Mbare’s ward 3, will not only target the filth and litter contaminating the area, but also illegal structures.

“We will be cleaning up illegal structures so where ever we go in terms of wards in Harare, we will also be doing the same thing because these structures make our city untidy,” Mahachi said.

“It is not only litter on the ground but also that which is up which needs to be removed. There are also carcasses —they will either be cut to make scrap metal or sold.”

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said those who build their structures on land that was illegally acquired should remove them before the authorities demolish the structures.

Chombo said the mushrooming of illegal structures was tampering with the ambience of the habitat, while violating the ecological balance and exposing communities to diseases and pestilence.

“So deplorable is the state of affairs in Chitungwiza municipal area and Seke communal lands, to the extent that residential stands are being arbitrarily and illegally parcelled out everywhere including in wetlands, along power lines, cemeteries, pastures and land zoned out for other uses,” Chombo said.

“In the meantime, the ministry is directing that all construction work on illegally allocated stands should stop forthwith.

“Those who will choose to continue, will not only be breaching the laws of the land, but risk losing their resources as some of their structures will have to be demolished.”

He said within a week, a team from the ministry will look to investigate land sales, to establish those involved in illegal land sales.

The minister also highlighted that the team will also establish who was paid for the land, how much was paid and how the money was paid and spent.

Chief Chikwaka also complained that despite efforts being made by his chieftaincy to bring illegal land offenders to book, nothing concrete had been done.

The traditional leader said it was deplorable that one of the headmen in his area was given first class treatment at a police station after he had committed an offence. “As a chief I do not have the powers to give land to anyone. I also do not have the authority to try anyone and give them a jail sentence,” he said.

“If you could talk to those at Home Affairs and the judicial services so that they can arrest and prosecute these people, because they are constantly released and continue with their illegal land deals.”

The chief warned that if this behaviour persisted, a second Caledonia Farm would sprout in the rural areas.

Chombo said that in the next two weeks, people who buy and sell land illegally in rural areas will be dealt with accordingly.

“Give us 14 to 21 days and you will see results. Warn those who are into illegal land deals that we are coming because we cannot let these unruly characters cause discomfort to our traditional leaders in  their areas,” Chombo said.

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