By Robert Tapfumaneyi
VICE PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga will chair a cabinet committee tasked to bring sanity in urban areas where housing cooperatives created by corrupt land barons will be de-registered.
The Vice President will also be in charge of mapping of a national masterplan on wetlands and other ecological spaces not suitable for human settlement.
This was announced by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa while addressing the first 2021 post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday.
She said government had noted with concern the construction of unapproved, sub-standard housing structures on illegal settlements created and controlled by land barons; rampant abuse of state and municipal land.
“Land barons were working in cahoots with corrupt state and municipal officers and fleecing unsuspecting home seekers,” she said.
“Also evident is the widespread contamination of watercourses and water bodies, environmental degradation and the destruction of flora and habitats for fauna, and an emerging threat to public health.
“Accordingly, Cabinet resolved that ministries, departments and agencies to work in concert in order to stem the tide of neglect and malpractices around illegal settlements.
“All those who broke the laws and by-laws on urban settlement will be brought to book without fear or favour.”
Mutsvangwa said task teams to investigate the illegal land allocations and map a way forward and implement these directives will be spearheaded by an enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management chaired by Chiwenga.
“The mapping of wetlands and other ecologically sensitive spaces at growth points, in towns, cities and peri-urban areas. The exercise shall be expanded to cover the whole country in order to draw up a national masterplan of all ecologically sensitive spaces on which human settlements and related developments shall not take place.”
“A national wetlands policy and guidelines is being formulated in order to protect the environment for sustainable development. The streamlining of the operations of co-operatives, including through de-registering all co-operatives which were captured by land barons but ensuring that innocent co-operatives and bona-fide home-seekers are not unduly victimised.
“Accordingly, Cabinet resolved that ministries, departments and agencies to work in concert in order to stem the tide of neglect and malpractices around illegal settlements. All those who broke the laws and by-laws on urban settlement will be brought to book without fear or favour.”
The Cabinet resolution comes a few days after former Zanu PF Chitungwiza Ward 25 councillor Frederick Mabamba was arrested for illegally parceling out state land all over the town. He has since been remanded in custody.
On Sunday, former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF MP for Goromonzi South Petronella Kagonye was arrested for illegally selling state land in Mashonaland East province and Harare.
She was granted a $30 000 bail Tuesday.
Several MDC councillors and senior officials from Harare including former mayor Herbert Gomba, and suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume have been arrested in recent months over illegally parcelling out land in the capital city.
Their cases are pending before the courts.