via Illegal structures to be spared | The Zimbabwean 3 September 2014
Chitungwiza Municipality has spared over 28,000 houses from demolition to minimise human misery and increase council revenue.
The illegal structures, which the council sought a High Court order to demolish, will be captured in the council database and the owners made to pay monthly service bills. A housing cooperative, Urban Development Cooperative (UDC), has been contracted to capture the targeted households into the database.
Each household will be charged $1,500 penalty to deter would-be illegal settlers from grabbing council land in future. An additional $400 survey fee will be charged to regularise the dwellings.
“We realised the need to achieve a win-win situation with the targeted households, hence the compromised adoption. “We will make further deliberations on the issue soon to tighten loose ends and chart the way forward regarding structures built in dangerous and unacceptable areas,” said the mayor Philip Mutoti.
Marvelous Khumalo, the director of Chitungwiza Residents Trust, welcomed the development but voiced several concerns. “Residents want the local authority to justify how it reached the $1,500 figure without due consultations,” he said, indicating that the figure was unaffordable given that the affected families had already paid money for the stands to land barons and housing cooperatives.
They also wanted to know how UDC was identified for the task – by winning a legitimate tender or following a ministerial directive.
Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama noted that it would have been both illegal and unfair for Chitungwiza to demolish the structures, and said “The amount of money to be paid should be reached through scientific ways and not used as punishment.”