BY MOSES MATENGA/MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE ruling Zanu PF party yesterday said it was supportive of government and Harare City Council’s proposed demolition of illegal structures, including those under co-operatives led by party members.
The demolitions, according to council, are set to start on April 2 this year, with hundreds of houses set to be destroyed because they were built on illegally-acquired land.
The affected co-operatives were Takura Housing, United We Stand, Ideal Homes and Igarwe Housing, which have links to the ruling party.
“The revolutionary party Zanu PF fully supports government efforts and firm action as pronounced by His Excellency President Cde ED Mnangagwa on the issue of land barons and illegal settlements in urban councils notably Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru, Mutare and other towns,” party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said in a statement.
“The sprouting of illegal settlements in wetland areas, riverbanks and other prohibited areas is both criminal and inhuman. Wetlands and riverbanks must be protected at all costs. Indeed, the destruction of wetlands worsens the impacts of floods as is currently being experienced in many parts of the country.”
Some land barons have been arrested while others are under investigation following a recent onslaught on illegal land developers by government.
According to a report by Justice Tendai Uchena after an inquiry into abuse and theft of State land, Zanu PF was implicated for using land to buy votes.
Former Cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye appeared in court early this week on allegations of parcelling out State land to housing co-operatives in Goromonzi as part of the Zanu PF campaign strategy for the 2013 elections.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said task teams had already been set up to identify alternative land to settle the affected citizens.
Investigations late last year by our sister publication, The Standard, revealed that the ruling party was responsible for the mushrooming of illegal settlements in Harare as part of a grand strategy to win polls and dilute the opposition MDC dominance.
Beneficiary co-operatives expressed anger at the ruling party for abandoning them to face the demolitions on their own.
They said the party had promised them protection in the run-up to the 2013 general elections.
“This is unfair. The party assured us during the 2016 by-elections and we got in with that assurance, now this,” a co-operative member, who claimed to be a party official in Kuwadzana, said.
A letter dated October 26, 2020 addressed to Harare provincial development co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti by a Zanu PF-affiliated co-operative in Parkridge West Housing Consortium, exposed how politicians created the illegal settlements.
“These residents were allocated through Zanu PF … around 2013-2014, with the agenda to neutralise the MDC invaders, who had invaded the same farm around 2012 (sic),” the letter read in part.
“422 stands of these MDC invaders were later regularised by the MDC-dominated council, while the Zanu PF members were denied regularisation,” the letter read.
“Unfortunately, the settlement on the Zanu PF-dominated side was hijacked by selfish land barons who started selling land to other people and subdivided the remainder of the farm into 22 co-operatives,” the consortium leaders said.
“Apparently, the farm belongs to the City of Harare. No formal registration was done to the city council by these land barons, but they were milking money from people between 2014 and 2017,” the consortium members added.
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