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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Chombo blames ‘illegal settlements’ on electioneering
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    October 01, 2013

    The Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Ignatius Chombo, has blamed the proliferation of housing units on land not yet serviced by city councils on the unscrupulous campaigning by some politicians that ensued ahead of the July 31 harmonized elections, resulting in a land scam his party could be guilty of spearheading under his nose.

    Chombo was speaking at a Harare interface meeting on September 26, 2013, with residents, the mayor, the metropolitan provincial Minister of State and councilors when he admitted that the period running to elections had seen the creation of phony housing cooperatives by politicians, which unlawfully parceled out unserviced land to home-seekers in a bid to snatch the urban vote.

    “Hongu kune vanoda dzimba asi mune matsotsi mugame redzimba (It is true that there are people who need land, but there are crooks in land deals),” Chombo said. “Saka endai munoudza vanhu vese varikunyeperwa nema cooperative aicreatwa nevanhu vachida ku campaigner (so go and tell those who are being lied to by cooperatives that were created by people who just wanted to use housing land as a campaign tool).”

    Chombo appealed to newly elected councilors predominantly from the Movement for Democratic Change led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), “you must of necessity vehemently remedy the unpalatable development”, saying the practice was rampant in areas like Chitungwiza and parts of Harare.

    The Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development seemed to pass the mess to the MDC-T run council, which he said must restore order.

    “It is government’s expectation that local authorities effectively implement planning regulations with the view to stop such activities,” Chombo said. “Councilor anoshanda ne ma officials a-town clerk ndoanofanira kuti apa hapavakwe punza imba yako (The relevant councilor is supposed to work in liaison with the officials from the town clerk, and tell the illegal settlers that they have built on undesignated land, and must destroy their illegal housing units).

    “Individuals masquerading as land authorities must be brought to book so as to protect citizens.”

    Prior to the latest call for councilors to act, it could have been difficult for councilors to take any action as some analysts have noted that Chombo and his Zanu-PF party are renowned for exhibiting an overbearing attitude towards local government structures.

    Recently commenting on the actions of the Ministry such as scrapping of debts and populist policies whose consequences the urban councils controlled by his party would have to deal with; MDC-T Spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said it was like “setting each other up for failure”.

    Chombo gave belated advice to the residents who had been duped for votes.

    “In the same vein, I would urge innocent citizens not to willingly submit themselves to the whims and machinations of such extortionate characters,” he said.

    Chombo called on the local government structures to deal with the issue of housing shortages, and promised to do “everything possible” to provide the land required for the housing program.

    “I am aware of your challenges such as diminished land bank and my Ministry will do everything possible to replenish the land bank,” Chombo said. “But it is high time that you embrace the densification mode of delivery to optimize use of the limited land available.”

    Analysts claim that fast track parceling out of land in Harare could have been part of Zanu-PF’s election program towards the July 31 harmonised election, which could implicate the party and its assigned Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Chombo, at least for not acting on the mushrooming of illegal structures.

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