Illegal settlements threaten monuments 

Source: Illegal settlements threaten monuments | The Herald

Illegal settlements threaten monuments
VP Mohadi

George Maponga

Masvingo Bureau

Government has expressed concern over the mushrooming of illegal human settlements that are now encroaching into Great Zimbabwe Monuments and World Heritage Site, about 25 kilometres south east of Masvingo City.

The historic monuments are critical as the country derives its name from their structures of balancing rocks built without mortar, apart from being a major tourist attraction known throughout the world.

Over the past few years, settlements have been sprouting around the world-acclaimed monuments, amid fears they could be desecrated and lose their lustre because of human activities.

This development came as village heads and other traditional leaders have been fingered in the illegal parcelling of land to settlers within the monuments’ vicinity.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi spoke out against encroachment of settlements into the monuments.

The Vice President, who was speaking during belated World Habitat Day festivities at Nemamwa Growth point near the heritage site, ordered that all illegal settlements around the monuments be demolished.

He said the naturalness of the monuments should be maintained as they occupied a special place in Zimbabwe’s history.

“We are hearing disturbing reports about illegal settlements that are encroaching into Great Zimbabwe monuments and I want to make it very clear that this must stop and all illegal structures should be removed,” said VP Mohadi.

“The monuments occupy a very special place in the history of our nation which derives its name from there and these structures should be preserved for the benefit of future generations. The monuments are sacred and of key historical significance to our nation through giving us identity as a country.”

VP Mohadi warned village heads against illegally parcelling out land around the monuments, saying the anomalies should be rectified.

He challenged the provincial leadership ensure the illegal settlements around Great Zimbabwe were removed.

VP Mohadi said Government no longer condoned illegal parcelling of land and warned that the perpetrators would be dealt with.

Great Zimbabwe Monuments was accorded World Heritage Site status by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1986.

Before the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of both domestic and foreign tourists flocked there every year to see the historic structures built at the peak of the Mutapa Empire around the 12th century.

The monuments are often used by scholars to prove that Africans had an exuberant civilization which inspired building of the stone structures using sophisticated handiwork.

A few years ago, UNESCO blocked Great Zimbabwe University from setting up its main campus near the monuments, amid fears increased human activities within the vicinity, coupled with construction of more modern facilities and infrastructure could defile them.