Chitungwiza Town Council is seeking permission from the courts to demolish at least 15 000 houses in the dormitory town as they were constructed on undesignated land. The local authority is determined to bring back sanity to the town where the illegal structures are said to be disrupting efficient service delivery. A land audit recently conducted by the councilrevealed that some structures in St Mary’s, Seke, Manyame, Nyatsime, Unit L and Riverside were built on land earmarked for churches, schools, cemeteries, drainage systems, electricity pylons and water pipes.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Chitungwiza Mayor, Mr Philip Mutoti said the local authority had engaged the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing over on the issue.
“It is high time these structures are demolished because they are not part of the town plan. They are disrupting the smooth flow of service delivery and costing the local authority potential revenue,” he said.
“The recent land audit revealed that over 15 000 houses need to demolished and we have already engaged the Ministry of Local Government and courts over the issue.
We have not been granted permission by the courts as yet. However, we are working to get the permission and start restoring order as soon as possible.”
“We have been advising residents not to buy land from land barons but some have ignored the call. Once we get the permission which are hoping will be granted soon, we will demolish the houses.”
In April this year, the local authority instructed the illegal settlers to vacate the areas within 48 hours but the occupiers ignored the order.
“The occupiers of the illegal land ignore council orders and listen to land barons who would have illegally parcelled out the land. Residents have also been taking advantage of the court order barring house demolitions,” said Mr Mutoti.
In 2014, High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordered Harare and Chitungwiza councils to stop demolition of illegal residential and business properties.
A recent audit by the Chitungwiza town council revealed that for the period April 22, 2015 to January 8, 2016; several councillors and council employees were illegally parcelling out undeveloped stands and submitting the land for verification and allocation with the department of housing.
Most local authorities in the country have been grappling with the illegal sale of undeveloped stands by land barons who in most cases are in council or linked to councillors.