via Govt bans housing co-ops | The Herald January 28, 2016
Innocent Ruwende and Farai Mukuwane
Government has stopped allocating land to developers and housing co-operatives with immediate effect, while all servicing and housing development on State land will be done by the Urban Development Corporation.
This follows instances in which millions of dollars have been lost to bogus land developers while many deals have gone sour after it turned out that they were illegal.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Christopher Chingosho announced on Tuesday that Government would also no longer brook situations where unserviced stands are sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
UDCORP has now been appointed overseer of all housing developments in designated State land.
The new Constitution now requires that all public entities be audited by the auditor-general, hence UDCORP has reverted to its role of infrastructure and property development.
“My ministry will continue to work with local authorities and the police to ensure that sanity prevails in the housing sector.
“Let me emphasise that we continue to encourage other stakeholders to fully participate in housing delivery,” he said.
“As a Government, we cannot do that alone. Concerted effort of all stakeholders is required for sustainable human settlement development.
“However, unscrupulous land developers, barons, cooperatives and housing trusts have abused this window and are swindling unsuspecting members of the public through illegal residential land deals.”
UDCORP chief executive Mr Bright Mudzvova said his organisation was ready to carry out its mandate and would enter into Public-Private Partnerships in order to meet the housing demand.
“We have competent engineers and planners to oversee existing projects and new ones,” he said. “Currently, we are project managers at Caledonia. There are two aspects in our job, in some cases we have to sanitise what is already on the ground and sometimes we have to deliver housing.”
UDCORP is a parastatal in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing which had been concentrating on auditing local authorities.
Deputy Minister Chingosho warned individuals illegally selling land at Solomio Farm in Goromonzi that it was allocated to five housing cooperatives – Solomon Mujuru, Shingiro, Vaduku, Civil Servants and Totonga.
Last year, UDCORP was tasked with sanitising Chitungwiza where land barons where parceling out land meant for other services.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Housing Union of Stoneridge Co-operatives Mr Robson Govere has said the allocation of stands to people who had their houses demolished at Arlington Estate along Airport Road is progressing smoothly.
“Rains had affected our work this week, but we will strive to continue our work,” he said. “We are placing the people from Arlington in the second phase of Stoneridge. We are working closely with Government to make sure that individuals affected by demolitions will be allocated stands.
“So far we have allocated stands to 1 200 people and we expect the figure to rise over the coming days. Double allocation has not occurred in Stoneridge Phase 2 and in the event of double allocation we will quickly rectify the situation.”
Mr Govere said those who are still at Arlington will eventually be moved to Stoneridge.
Some of the affected people yesterday maintained that they were legally settled at Arlington and denied forging documents.
A representative of Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative Ms Elipha Chapinga said there were two groups of people in the Arlington issue, one comprising of squatters and the other one under Nyikavanhu Housing Co-operative.
“We have documentation from Harare City Council and the Local Government Ministry showing that we followed the normal procedures required of a co-operative, so Nyikavanhu is legally entitled to reside at Arlington,” he said.
“We are in line with the Harare Combination Master Plan dated February 1997 which provides broad policy for the planning and development of land in the city. The master plan shows that our area under lot 2 and 3 of Harare South Eyrecourt is meant for medium density housing. Residents even followed Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe regulations to avoid affecting airport communications.”
Ms Chapinga said they were advised to build houses with low roofs which did not exceed two storeys.
She called on Government to engage the settlers so that the issue can be resolved amicably.