HARARE – Chitungwiza municipality has backtracked on its threat to demolish 10 000 illegal structures constructed on wetlands and on top of sewer mains.
The town’s authorities had last month indicated that it had received a government directive to destroy the houses which have now starved the town of ventilation gaps as land barons parcel out stands for private gain.
This followed an investigation into the allocation, change of use, subdivision and repossession of stands by a team appointed by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo last year.
The team unearthed massive corruption in the sprawling town leading to the dismissal of several councillors.
The commission also recommended that houses built on road sites, on top of sewage pipes and those built under electricity cables be demolished.
But yesterday the city fathers made an about turn at a meeting with residents.
The city fathers were taken to task in the no-holds-barred meeting.
Residents queried why they had made a decision to destroy the homes which they allocated to home-seekers and were all along collecting revenue for.
Urging residents to use proper channels to acquire residential stands, chamber secretary Patience Vengesai said Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had not ordered that the houses be razed.
She told residents that Chombo had not yet responded to the report’s findings and recommendations.
“Reports that we intend to demolish your houses are not true,” Vengesai said. “It is the media that sensationalise issues because we do not act unilaterally. We get instructions from government and we have not been given any directive to that effect.
“Moreover, the minister has not even responded to the resuscitation team’s findings and recommendations as yet.
“As council we however, advise you to use proper council channels to get stands in the future as doing it otherwise will cost you your hard-earned cash.”
Flanked by the dormitory town’s mayor Phillip Mutoti, councillors and senior council management, including the health, finance and housing directors and the town engineer, Vengesai who is also deputy town clerk, admitted that there were several things the city fathers had not gotten right.
She urged residents to work with the local authority to get the town working.
“We know there are a lot of things that we did wrong as council but that should be bygones as this is a new management,” she said. “We must work together now and make sure we rid our environment of dirt by dumping litter in designated dump-sites.
“We could possibly form clean-up clubs that will complement council’s efforts because we do not have enough refuse collection vehicles.”
Residents complained about poor refuse collection and accused city fathers of having misplaced priorities by buying expensive vehicles at the expense of service delivery.
“You people must stop wasting our time talking about not having enough garbage collection vehicles when you arrived here in the top-of-the-range vehicles we are seeing,” fumed Jabulani Mtunzi of Unit D.
“Why did you choose to buy such vehicles if the municipality is financially-crippled like you are claiming? It is all because you are selfish and now you want us to share your responsibility.”
With Local Government deputy minister Joel Biggie Matiza meeting Chitungwiza residents again today, there had been escalating fears in the sprawling town that another Operation Murambatsvina was in the offing.