via Govt probes illegal stand allocations | The Herald November 1, 2013 by Tendai Mugabe
GOVERNMENT has ordered an immediate stop to construction work on illegally allocated stands and set up a team to investigate reports of wanton and illegal allocation of land in all towns and cities. The team — which would be led by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Cde Joel Biggie Matiza — would start its investigations in Chitungwiza and Seke Rural District Council next week.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said the investigations were necessitated by gross malpractices in the allocation of land that has spawned environmental risks.
“In the meantime, the ministry is directing that all construction work on illegally-allocated stands be stopped forthwith,” Minister Chombo said.
“Those who will choose to continue will not only be breaching the laws of the land, but risk losing their resources as some of their structures will have to be demolished.”
The team is expected to come up with recommendations that would guide the Government on the way forward.
The investigations begin in Chitungwiza and Seke where Government last year unearthed serious illegal parcelling of land in the two areas.
Minister Chombo said such illegal settlements exposed residents of Seke and Chitungwiza to communicable diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid.
“Accordingly, this Press briefing has been necessitated by reports of rampant and wanton illegal settlements sprouting in Chitungwiza municipal area and Seke communal lands under Manyame RDC.
“A preliminary investigation carried out by my ministry in December 2012, unearthed serious irregularities regarding land use and management in the two local authorities.”
Minister Chombo said the situation in Chitungwiza and Seke was so deplorable that residential stands were being arbitrarily allocated all over including on wetlands, along power lines, cemeteries, pastures and land zoned for other uses. He said Government could not tolerate such unacceptable practices to continue.
As such, a strong team of professionals from the Local Government ministry would be examining the situation starting next week.
“In this regard, my ministry has set up a team of experienced professionals under the guidance of Deputy Minister Matiza to verify the exact state of affairs in the two local authority areas within the coming week,” he said.
The team, Minister Chombo said, sought to investigate the extent of the illegal land sales, allocations, development and usage and to establish the number and identity of individuals, co-operatives and developers involved.
The minister said the team would also verify the status of land that was illegally allocated in both Chitungwiza and Seke to determine the extent to which the illegal land allocation have impacted on spatial planning an corporate governance in the areas concerned.
Their terms of reference would also include verification of the registration status of co-operatives involved in the illegal land sales and establish the number of beneficiaries and how the same were selected.
“In the event that the beneficiaries paid some money to get the stands, to establish to whom the money was paid to and how the money so paid and was spend.”
Minister Chombo said Government remained committed to ensuring that citizens are afforded the opportunity to have access to serviced land for the purpose of building decent residential accommodation.