By Staff Reporter
MUTARE City Council says it has stopped allocating land to private land developers and is currently working on solving problems which were created by land barons in some settlements.
City housing director Emma Mandiziba said this during a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Interface meeting which was held in the eastern border city recently.
The meeting was attended by various stakeholders including residents’ associations, civil society and real estate operators.
“Land developers had left citizens in inhabitable settlements without proper water, sanitation, roads and drainage services.
“We have realised with regret how private land developers have left most of the settlements without proper services like water, sanitation, roads and drainage systems thereby leaving citizens in flood prone areas,” said Mandiziba.
She said the local authority was now responsible for the allocation of land to residents.
“Council will not issue land to any land developers. Going forward, it is now the responsibility of the council to allocate land to its ratepayers,” said the director.
Mandiziba said while council has closed its doors to land developers, it was in the process of correcting the anomalies created by land barons.
“With regards to settlements that are already affected, council also resolved to take up settlements which were mismanaged by land developers so that we can complete servicing of such areas,” said the city boss.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) coordinator Edson Dube said council must expedite the process of allocating stands to residents on the waiting list.
“Housing is still a challenge in Mutare. It is taking ages for people to be allocated stands. Land barons have taken advantage of the situation to fleece desperate home seekers,” said Dube.
Mildret Muzanechita also weighed in, saying housing allocation by council must not discriminate against women.
“It is sad that women are still being discriminated against as they are continuously asked about their marital status when they go to council for land allocation,” she said.
Currently, the housing waiting list stands at 60 000.
The city is struggling to regularise settlements such as Gimbok and Federation in Dangamvura high density areas.
The settlements were created by private land developers who left settlers without putting in place water and sewer facilities.
The areas to date have no proper road network and health facilities.
The settlers buy water from surrounding communities while others rely on unprotected sources such as wells and streams.