THE City of Harare is crafting by-laws to provide for the criminalisation of land barons wreaking havoc in the capital including parcelling out land on wetlands to desperate homeseekers.
Land barons, most of whom are linked to Zanu PF, have been illegally selling council and State land to homeseekers.
Some houses built on wetlands in Harare were floated with water following the recent rains, leaving residents counting losses after their household property were destroyed.
On Saturday, Zanu PF distanced itself from land barons saying they are a menace and should be arrested for abusing the party’s name when grabbing council and State land.
Harare mayor Jacob Mafume said they were now crafting by-laws to have land barons criminally-charged in the courts.
“All those that are being threatened and extorted must report to council, district officers and the police,” Mafume said.
“We will not tolerate the issue of land and space barons and accordingly we will be drafting our own private members Bill to clearly define land and space barons as criminal offences.”
He also said the local authority was engaging government departments to consider defining criminalities and illegalities around land and space barons.
Yesterday, residents associations condemned the continued parcelling out of land on wetlands by land barons especially in Harare.
Houses built on wetlands in Harare have been the worst affected by flash floods.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director, Precious Shumba, said land barons were to blame.
“Flooding is predictable in wetlands and low lying areas such as Budiriro,” Shumba said.
“With all that knowledge, corrupt people in both council and the government have been collaborating with land barons to allocate people residential stands on the wetlands and water pathways without any consideration of the impacts of their actions.
“If you visit and interview some of the victims, they reveal that identified council officials have misled the City of Harare by collecting money from the land barons and promising the desperate homeseekers that nothing will happen to them.”
Shumba added: “The government should come hard on these land barons as the victims have lost their savings through corruption.
Combined Harare Residents Association director Reuben Akili said council and the government needed to address the country’s housing backlog.
“As long as we do not address these needs, we are not accomplishing anything,” Akili said.
“This is the third time people in Budiriro have been hard hit by floods and we would have loved a situation where they are allocated land suitable for housing.”