Government is crafting tough legislation to decisively deal with land barons who are illegally parcelling out residential and commercial stands, especially on wetlands.
The President is now seized with the matter and all culprits will be punished as the Government seeks to solve the problem permanently.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda yesterday confirmed that the issue was now being handled at the highest level.
Dr Sibanda was speaking after presiding over the signing of a performance contract for Engineer Joy Pedzisayi Makumbe, the newly appointed Permanent Secretary for National Housing and Social Amenities.
“The issue of wetlands and the consequences that have arisen are being handled now at the highest level.
“We have now had to move fast and soon, an appropriate pronouncement on the way forward is going to be articulated from the highest offices. It is a matter that is being attended to,” said Dr Sibanda.
Other heads of ministries signed their contracts in December but Engineer Makumbe was not yet posted to the ministry.
She replaced Engineer Theodius Chinyanga who was reassigned to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
Dr Sibanda said: “All permanent secretaries as mentioned during the ceremony on December 18, have started implementing their priorities within the framework of the National Development Strategy 1.
“She (Eng Makumbe) had started without necessary confirmation of the contract, but now it has become urgent because the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works have challenges.
“We are trying to address the problem of wetlands, which is a result of illegal settlements. The quicker we create an environment for her the better and this is why we decided that we sign the contract so that she starts her work,” he said.
Engineer Makumbe brings private sector experience, which dovetails with the Government’s vision of a private sector-led economy through the National Development Strategy 1.
She has private sector infrastructure development experience in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Tanzania in support of private and public-funded residential development projects.
Engineer Makumbe holds undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in civil engineering and business management, with 20 years of experience in the design and implementation of civil engineering projects in water supply and sanitation, and roads infrastructure in various towns and cities.
Speaking after signing her contract as an accounting officer for the ministry, Engineer Makumbe said she was coming to lead a portfolio blighted by irregularities in the allocation of human settlements.
“I have started my work from the deep-end as you know we have an issue of wetlands which really is going on at the moment. We have so many people that have been settled where there is flooding.
“So many irregularities in terms of human settlements, but what I want to say is that we, as Government, have moved in, so that we avert whatever catastrophe,” she said.
Tying permanent secretaries to performance contracts is the start of a new system where those managing the public service are now expected to perform to defined areas in line with key reforms for the public sector.
The system and the electronic-enabled Whole of Government Performance Management System were inaugurated by President Mnangagwa, as a major step forward in ensuring that the public sector is efficiently and effectively managed.
The contracts are aimed at making senior civil servants accountable not only to the President, but to the public they serve.
Meanwhile, suspected land baron, Fredrick Mabamba, who allegedly parcelled out residential stands to more than 5 000 people, who have been badly affected by floods in Chitungwiza, will appear in court today for bail application.
Mabamba is facing 15 counts of fraud involving the illegal sale of land in the dormitory town and is said to have pocketed over US$600 000 from homeseekers during his tenure as Chitungwiza deputy mayor and councillor for Ward 25 in Chitungwiza.
His arrest followed an inquiry by the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Daniel Garwe on how people badly affected by floods last week were settled on wetlands in the first place.
Mambamba also faced criminal abuse of office charges when he appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje yesterday.
He was represented by Mr Tapiwa Allen Munodawafa and was not asked to plead to the charges.
The State led by Miss Audrey Chogumaira and Miss Sheilla Mupindu opposed bail saying he was likely to continue selling stands and interfere with witnesses.
Mabamba is expected back in court today for continuation of bail application.
It is alleged that between January 2013 and August 2014 he sold 200 stands in St Mary’s, 230 in Zengeza, 57 in Seke, 23 in Zengeza 5 and 400 in Unit A.
He also allegedly sold two car sales stands in Unit B, 120 stands in Unit C, 120 in Unit F and N while 76 people were duped in Unit G.
Mabamba is also alleged to have parcelled out stands on a piece of land that was earmarked for construction of a school.
He also allegedly sold a piece of land that was set aside for building of a hospital in Unit L.