via Chitown residents, land barons get 3-day ultimatum April 11, 2014 in NewsDay by Moses Matenga
THE government has descended heavily on Chitungwiza land barons and residents who illegally acquired stands in the dormitory town, giving them a three-week ultimatum to demolish their houses on their own or else they engage the police.
At least 4 000 houses, according to Chitungwiza town clerk George Makunde are set to be affected by the demolitions.
Addressing residents in Chitungwiza yesterday, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said there was no going back on the government position of restoring order in Chitungwiza.
He said Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri will be engaged to deal with land barons who “stole” State land and sold them to residents illegally.
He said there have been scandalous cases where people “fraudulently” acquired land on wetlands, on sewer pipes, schools, cemeteries and under electricity power lines thereby endangering lives.
“We want an orderly city, we need sanity and a well planned city. People should stop fraudulent land sales by self-styled barons who are eager to sell land not belonging to them,” Chombo said.
He blasted human rights defenders opposed to the decision to demolish illegal structures. Chombo said the illegal structures posed a danger to residents, adding that human rights groups were “out of order”.
“What human rights are there when people settle and are exposed to dangers as those masquerading as human rights activists want us to believe. Let me announce that we’re giving all those improperly settled three weeks to vacate,” he said.
“Those who destroy their shacks will be given priority in the allocation of stands.”
Chombo, who was accompanied by Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development minister Stembiso Nyoni and Local Government deputy minister Joel Biggie Matiza said the team will work to ensure wetlands were protected while people are properly settled.
“With the assistance of Commissioner-General Chihuri, all land barons will be dealt with and he will assist you for free,” Chombo said.
The ministerial team toured houses and stands sold illegally. The delegation passed through a cemetery and water-logged houses where people got land from Fraderick Mabamba and former MDC-T councillor Bonface Manyonganise for between $4 500 and $6 000.
Kasukuwere, who was not amused with the state of the environment where the houses were built, said those affected should be refunded by those who sold them the land.
Makunde said more than 4 000 families might be affected by the exercise. He said council will find measures to recover money lost due to corruption.
Mabamba, one of the alleged land barons mentioned in the scandal, said there was no need to demolish his stands and school as it was his own personal land. But he was quick to add that if the minister wants to, he would not object.
“Whatever the minister says, we will not challenge it. If he thinks it’s the best thing for the community, and so be it,” he said.
“This land here is my school and not State land. It is 3,5 hectares and our area will not be demolished because we own the land which I bought as a school.”
Mabamba denied abusing the name of Zanu PF to corruptly amass vast tracts of land. He also disputed contents of a report implicating him in illegal land deals.