Harare warns against illegal land occupation

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HARARE city council has warned that it will not entertain individuals, housing cooperatives or pay schemes that pester it claiming to have discovered open land in the city.

“We are inundated with claims of discovery for housing and commercial land. If any such land is available, it will be advertised in the press as per council policy,” the city council said in a statement.

The remarks come as the council has over the years battled land barons who illegally parcel out its land to unsuspecting home seekers.

While many cities and towns in the country have experienced the challenge, Harare has been the hardest hit due to the huge number of people seeking housing.

This led President Emmerson Mnangagwa in February this year to appoint a six-member Commission of Inquiry of Urban Land to clamp down on land barons that have illegally parceled out vast tracts of urban State land across the country.

At the swearing-in of the Commission, Mnangagwa said the commission would investigate and identify all State land in and around urban areas that was acquired and allocated to the local government ministry for public development since 2005.

The Commission will also investigate and ascertain the status of such land in terms of ownership, occupation and development, investigate methods of acquisition and/or allocation by current occupants or owners of such land and ascertain actors involved in the allocation, occupation or use of such land.

In January this year, the Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe said the country needed an estimated 15 to 20 years to clear its national housing backlog, currently estimated at 1.3 million, with Harare alone requiring about 500,000 units