Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Cash-strapped Chitungwiza Municipality is losing millions of dollars in potential revenue amid indications that it has over 41 000 properties, many illegally created by land barons, that are not listed in its database with owners enjoying free services including refuse collection.
Some of the stands are illegal, in that they were built on wetlands, on top of drainage systems and below Zesa power lines. Most of these properties were created by land barons who would pocket the money prejudicing council.
In an interview today, Chitungwiza Acting Town Clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu said the 41 000 properties were not paying rates yet still relied on the council for services.
“This situation has arisen because in Chitungwiza there has been a phenomenon of the mushrooming of illegal settlements,” he said.
“Land barons have been illegally parcelling out land that does not belong to them to desperate home seekers and once these people are illegally settled, they require services from council, even though they are not contributing to council’s revenue base.”
Dr Kasu said there are also households from these illegal settlements that are illegally connecting themselves to the municipal water system and are therefore receiving treated water for free.
“Areas with illegal water connections to municipal water are: Units N, O, P, M and L Extensions, which have mixed council and unregularised properties and also include some properties at PaGomba in Zengeza 4,” he said.
The illegal connections were worsening the revenue problems faced by the council. Dr Kasu said a robust and comprehensive regularisation programme was needed, so that the large numbers of people that are outside the system can be brought into the system.
“This will also require the assistance and intervention of the Central Government since there are limitations and constraints in the available local material and technical resources, with respect to conducting a regularisation programme of the scope and size that is currently needed.”
Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Ms Alice Kuveya said they were also pushing for the council to regularize places like Nyatsime but it was ignoring the advice and pressure.
“They are afraid of double allocations, which they have caused in the whole town. We urge the council to regularise them as soon as possible, so that we get revenue that will help in service delivery, which has deteriorated,” she said.