The Zimbabwe Republic Police on Wednesday launched a countrywide crackdown on land barons who are said to be behind the massive parceling out of land to desperate home seekers and the illegal construction of structures in the Zimbabwe’s towns and cities.
In a joint press conference, acting Harare City Council Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube, national police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner, Charity Charamba, said police have set up a special unit to deal with land barons.
The team will first concentrate on Harare before moving to other towns and cities. Most of the land barons are linked to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Charamba said those whose houses have been destroyed and others who were allocated land on undesignated sites must approach the police with documentary evidence such as receipts for the money they paid to the land barons or illegal co-operatives so that police can use it to arrest and prosecute the culprits.
She said the exercise will targets land barons, council and government officials involved in the illegal parceling of lands.
She said some arrests have been made but could not say how many have been nabbed so far.
Acting Harare Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube, said council had engaged the police after residents and illegal land developers failed to heed its instructions to stop illegal developments.
She refused to disclose the number of houses that would be pulled down but said council had done audits on all illegal structures in the city.
Ncube added that all developments done without consent of council would be pulled down.
Residents, she added, must consult local authorities before embarking on any housing developments.
Combined Harare Residents Association director, Mfundo Mlilo, said it was illegal for council to destroy illegally constructed houses without a court order.
He, however, welcomed police investigations into the illegal lands allocations.
He added that his organization had written to police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri asking him to stop the demolitions during the investigations.
More than 100 CHRA members have lost their houses and property in the on-going demolitions.
In the past few years, thousands of urban dwellers seeking residential stands were hood winked into parting with their hard earned money by unscrupulous individuals who hid behind politics to illegally allocate stands around Harare’s townships creating chaotic settlements, in Chitungwiza for example, with some people even constructing under power pylons.