BINDURA – Mashonaland Central has set up a committee to look into illegal settlements on wetlands and ecologically sensitive spaces, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Monica Mavhunga told a meeting of chief executive officers of all rural district councils and town clerks of urban councils yesterday.
She ordered land barons in the province to stop parcelling out stands until the committee finishes its investigations and presents its findings.
The committee, which is being led by the director for Local Government in the province Mr Cosmas Chiringa, has started mapping wetlands and other ecologically sensitive places at growth points, in towns and in peri-urban areas.
It is expected to come up with a provincial master plan that will feed into the national master plan on ecologically sensitive spaces where human settlements and related developments may not take place.
“I call upon stakeholders to work together to ensure irregular settlements in this province are a thing of the past. Where there is a need to relocate people settled on wetlands, let that be done with speed,” she said.
“All land barons, if any, in the province must cease operations forthwith until the committee presents its report. Those found on the wrong side of the law will be brought to book.
“I implore those nominated into the committee to carry out their mandate diligently without fear or favour. All challenges during the operation must be brought to the attention of the provincial development coordinator.”
She said illegal settlements on wetlands had negatively impacted the already overloaded infrastructure, public health and water bodies.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa directed ministries, government departments and agencies to work in concert to stop the rot and to re-assert planned human settlement,” she said.
“Politicians across the political divide are not spared. Those who broke the law or by-laws will be brought to book without fear or favour. Land barons will not only have their day in court but must be made to compensate the desperate home seekers whom they callously fleeced and exploited.
“Let it be known that the Second Republic is about rule of law, discipline and order. This is what is expected of us in running and managing our towns.”
Senator Mavunga said investigations into land use and management by local authorities has already found massive corruption in the allocation, administration and placement of home seekers in some growth points, towns and cities.
“The report highlighted serious levels of abuse of office and wanton violation of laws and by-laws. Mashonaland Central was not spared in the investigation and the investigation team was sent to Bindura Municipality and Mvurwi Town Council,” she said. – Herald