Mnangagwa set to legalise illegal city structures

Citizens yesterday welcomed President Mnangagwa’s decision to step in and regularise all houses built on undesignated land to minimise losses.

A number of settlements were over the years erected on illegal land, mainly due to corruption and incompetence by MDC councillors.

But the President told a Zanu PF Politburo meeting on Tuesday that his administration was moving in to alleviate the suffering of urbanites, who have been receiving a raw deal from successive MDC councils since 2000.

A Hopley resident, Mr Tanaka Kwashu, said the President had given him an unexpected Christmas present.

“It is a pleasure that our President has decided to give us title deeds for our properties. It is indeed an early Christmas gift for thousands of people especially here in Harare.

“We have been living in fear of possible demolitions all along, but that is all allayed,” he said.

A Caledonia resident, Mrs Eugene Marova, said the development had put to rest the issue of land barons who were soliciting for bribes from them.

“We were always in a catch-22 situation with land barons demanding bribes from us for regularisation. The encouraging words from the President that we will get title deeds are actually a major relief to us,” she said.

Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts chairperson, Mr Shepherd Shalvar Chikomba, thanked President Mnangagwa for the move.

“This is a welcome development, this is what we have been advocating for as representatives of residents,” he said. “We have been calling for the regularisation of Southlea Park, Caledonia and many other suburbs.”

However, Mr Chikomba said while President Mnangagwa had listened to the pleas of residents to have their houses spared from demolition, the land barons who illegally sold State land and pocketed the proceeds should have their day in court.

“Also all council officials who have been fingered as having been involved in corruption, should be tried and jailed,” he said.

Zanu PF’s Secretary for Information and Publicity Chris Mutsvangwa on Tuesday said the move by the President was yet another game-changer that will improve the lives of urbanites.

“The President announced a big bang financial system, issuing title deeds to urban dwellers to the existing crop of urban houses. We have many houses that were built and many have no title.

“These houses are going to get title deeds, this is the creation of a new financial bank, people are going to securitise existing houses. This is a big bang Christmas gift to urban dwellers by the President for their existing houses,” he said.

Renowned town planner, Dr Percy Toriro, yesterday said the pronouncement by the President was commendable.

“The President knows that there are compliance issues that must be followed. This is a good thing and the way we should go, where everyone has security of tenure.

“It is now left to the officials to instil order, implement (the announcement) and to do the right thing in accordance with the planning regulations,” said Dr Toriro.

Combined Harare Residents Association programmes manager Mr Rueben Akili said they expected residents allocated land on wetlands to be given alternative land for houses.

“Those who allocated people land for housing on these areas must also face some consequences so that regularisation is not manipulated by land barons,” he said.

This year, the President launched the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP), a programme aimed at spearheading the development of modern and affordable urban and rural human settlements and social amenities in a coordinated and sustainable manner.

Under ZNHSP, the country aims to build 225 000 houses by 2025.

The construction, which will have a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy such as the manufacturing industry, has already started.