THE Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) says Harare wetlands are fast disappearing across the capital city as authorities and land barons grab the land for residential purposes.
In a statement, HRT said wetlands are being destroyed in most communities as corrupt councillors, council district officials, town planners and political party leaders connive with land barons to unprocedurally parcel out wetlands, recreational and other open spaces.
The trust said land barons were taking advantage of desperate homeseekers and misleading them into illegally occupying council and State land.
“The heavy rains that have fallen in Harare have exposed the corrupt for selling people residential stands on the natural paths of water. The people who have settled on these wetlands and the sellers involved are equally culpable,” the trust said.
“There is no way that water will change its natural course without bothering the illegally settled. A sustainable solution is urgently needed for Zimbabwe to address housing shortages and the preservation of wetlands.”
HRT decried the invasion of council paddocks bordering Mufakose, Crowborough, Budiriro and Kuwadzana which have been occupied by people led by elected officials, land barons and council bureaucrats.
“Some of the people are given the land during the election campaign period in return for votes. Every rain season the residents who illegally settled on these wetlands experience flooding, and they lose thousands of United States dollars’ worth of their personal possessions like furniture, clothes and food,” the trust said.
HRT accused the illegal settlers on wetlands of working with the land barons who placed them on the illegal settlements.
“During our tour in Budiriro we found out that most of the housing cooperative executives did not want the government or the council to help the affected victims of flooding. The HRT has observed that the victims and the land barons all protect each other,” the trust said.
Victims refuse to disclose who sold the stands to them, insisting that they had council-issued documents giving them the legal rights to be in those places.
“The land barons, council technocrats and councillors all insist that there is no more land to relocate these people. There is an unholy alliance among the victims and the officials involved in the illegal land sales,” HRT added.