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Audit Team Recommends Stern Measures for Toxic Land Deals

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
An audit team set up to investigate the extent of illegal land sales, allocations and development in Chitungwiza and Seke presented its findings to the Local Government Ministry on Wednesday saying those responsible for the unsanctioned activities must be arrested while the affected must be given eight months to relocate to suitable areas.

Presenting the team’s findings to Local Government Minister, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo, team leader Ronald Chimowa said the situation in Chitungwisa and Seke was so bad that it needed urgent action.

The investigations revealed there was rampant corruption in the two local authorities and co-operatives such United We Stand, Zano Remba and other individuals had ripped desperate home seekers of more than $20,000 million and allocated more than 23,000 stands on unsuitable or land reserved for other purposes.

For example, Chimowa said across Chitungwiza land reserved for schools, churches, recreational facilities, police buildings, cemeteries, wetlands, electricity pylons and other uses had all been snapped up and parceled out by the land barons.

The team said most of these illegal deals in Chitungwiza were a direct result of low morale among council employees as they were not being paid. They ended up cutting deals with land barons and co-operatives to earn a living.

In Seke, the team found out that village heads, councillors and co-operatives were allocating land haphazardly on rumours that the satellite town was expanding into their areas.

Chimowa said there is need for proper urban development in the affected areas, adding the local authorities must be capacitated while statutes on urban planning and development should be adhered to.

Minister Chombo said the government will study the report before making a final decision. Last week, Local Government permanent secretary Killian Mpingo told parliament that the report will be discussed by Cabinet before any of its recommendations are implemented.

Officials from the affected councils as well as Harare, Ruwa and Norton attended the function. Government had planned to demolish all illegal structures in and around Harare and surrounding areas but shelved the plan following an outcry from residents and human rights groups.