By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has maintained his spotlight on MDC dominated urban authorities he blames for poor planning to a point where some homeowners have been settled on wetlands.
In the past few years, Harare especially, has seen a lot of land fall into the hands of greedy land barons with strong political connections in both Zanu PF and MDC.
The barons have gone on to sell portions of the properties to desperate homeseekers who only realise their misfortune when authorities send earthmoving machines to put down the homes in cruel fashion or the same homes are submerged in floods.
In his State Of The Nation Address Thursday, Mnangagwa said families which have suffered the misfortune should immediately be given open spaces to rebuild their homes.
“The current excess rains received across the country have exposed and lay bare the extent of the associated problems in unplanned urban settlements in our urban peri-urban and growth points,” Mnangagwa said.
“Henceforth, relevant ministries are being constituted into working groups that will focus on social service delivery as well as arresting the negative impact of chaotic, unplanned illegal settlements, growth points, towns and cities.
“Meanwhile, alternative spaces have to be urgently identified and developed for relocation of families with houses built on wetlands and other undesignated areas.
“The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities with other ministries, departments and agencies must immediately identify such areas and ascertain the quantum of affected households.”
Mnangagwa added, “Furthermore the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) should identify and designate all wetlands around the country as unsuitable spaces for human settlements.
“Going forward, boundaries marking rural and urban land must be enforced or redrawn according to relevant laws.
“The redress of this undesirable and worrisome situation is being urgently and decisively undertaken across all local authorities.
“The current urban local authorities have all failed us.”
Information says corrupt Chitungwiza Town Council senior officials, councillors and land barons have continued parcelling out stands in undesignated areas despite repeated warnings by the government against the move.
Early this month, the Harare city council indicated it would demolish at least 11 000 houses built on illegally allocated land.
However, Local Government Minister July Moyo advised against the action.