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Local government media tracker - 13 December 2013
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
December 13, 2013

14 000 houses face demolition in Chitungwiza
The Herald

More than 14 000 residential stands allocated to home seekers in Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural District Council are illegal and the structures built on them should be demolished, a Government audit on illegal structures has established. Of these, 8 260 stands are in Chitungwiza, while 6 200 are in Seke communal lands under Manyame Rural District Council and it has emerged that they were allocated on land earmarked for other purposes. Some of the stands were created on spaces reserved for clinics, churches, schools, cemeteries, recreational activities and roads, while others were created under high voltage electricity pylons. In Seke rural, some people were allocated stands on grazing lands, wetlands, and other lands not suitable for housing.

The audit team recommended the arrest and prosecution of land barons who are mainly housing co-operatives, councillors and village heads after it emerged that they looted and illegally sold 23 074 stands that did not belong to them, pocketing more than US$20 million. United We Stand Multi-Purpose Co-operative, which is believed to be run by some councillors and other influential people in Chitungwiza, was singled out as the chief land baron both in Chitungwiza and Seke. Government assured the families that would be affected that they would be offered alternative land upon being ordered to vacate their stands.

Government demands parastatals pay schedule

The Herald

Government has directed heads of public entities to provide schedules of their salaries and benefits, but the reasons behind the move were still unclear. According to sources, the directive, by chief secretary to the president and cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, was issued to heads of public entities through their parent ministries. “The letter from Dr Sibanda was delivered on November 28 to cabinet ministers and it basically required heads of public enterprises to avail information specifically on monetary and non-monetary benefits for chief executives and fees for board members,” said a CEO with one of the public entities who requested anonymity. “The letters were however, received on different dates but the schedules were needed in seven days.” While the reasons behind the latest development remained unclear, government has in the recent past expressed reservations over salary scales for heads of public entities. It is understood that while public enterprises were required to routinely submit remuneration and board fees schedules of public entities, some institutions failed to comply. Despite earning hefty salaries, with some getting more than private sector executives, most state entities are struggling with some said to be technically insolvent. The directive comes at a time when government has instituted investigations into outrageous salary and benefits of the suspended Zimbabwe broadcasting corporation chief executive Mr Happison Muchechetere, who was earning a salary and allowances totaling nearly US$40 000 per month.

23 000 home seekers lose $20million
The NewsDay

Illegal housing co-operatives in Chitungwiza collected over $20 million from desperate home seekers for illegal residential stands, it has emerged. The long-awaited probe report was released and revealed massive land theft. Most of the illegal stands were located on wetlands or on land earmarked for schools or clinics, the audit report on Chitungwiza and Manyame revealed. Presenting the report to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, the audit team chairperson Ronald Chimowa said the results of the report were astounding. According to the report, as many as 23 074 illegal stands valued at $20 423 900 were created in Chitungwiza by a number of land barons accused of running a parallel authority in the dormitory town. Of those stands, 8 260 were allocated in unsuitable areas. The report fingered the main culprit that sold the bulk of the illegal stands as United We Stand Multipurpose Co-operative chaired by suspended Ward 25 councillor Frederick Mabamba.

Chitungwiza report expected today
The Herald

The much-awaited audit report on the illegal structures in Chitungwiza and Seke rural areas is expected, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Joel Biggie Matiza has said. Deputy Minister Matiza said he would wait for the report before making comments regarding the impending demolitions of illegal structures. "We are expecting the report,” he said. "Right now I am not in a position to comment over the issue, you have to wait for it.” Deputy Minister Matiza said his ministry had set up a team to do a forensic audit in Chitungwiza and Seke and come up with recommendations. He said Government would only be able to redress the problem once the report was out. The report paves way for the demolition of all illegal structures in Chitungwiza and Seke communal lands. Some of the houses illegally constructed on wetlands were already cracking, while wells sunk in those areas where mixing with water containing faecal matter exposing the residents to cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases. Harare City Council recently gave residents a two-month reprieve to negotiate with council on the way forward regarding their illegal structures before demolition begins. The city said it would demolish all illegal structures as part of efforts to restore the city's sunshine status and meet its target of making the city world class by 2025.

Highest paid Zimbabwe mayor earns $450
The Zimbabwean Mail

The highest paid Mayor in Zimbabwe is the Harare Mayor, who earns $450 per month, it has emerged. Local Government secretary Killian Mupingo disclosed the paltry salaries earned by mayors, councillors and traditional leaders, but declined to disclose the other benefits which made the posts attractive. “Of course, there are other perks that go with the posts that I cannot disclose,” Mupingo said while addressing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government chaired by Mutasa South MP Irene Zindi. Mupingo said the Harare mayor got a monthly salary of $450 per month while the deputy mayor earned $340. The Bulawayo mayor got $350 and the deputy earned $300. Mayors in other cities got monthly salaries of $300. He said there were 272 chiefs, 452 headmen and an estimated 25 000 village heads. “Chiefs earn $300 per month. Those in the National Council of Chiefs get an additional $30. Headmen get $140 per month, village heads $25, chiefs’ messengers $40, and headmen’s messengers $20.

Chombo suspends councilor Mabamba
All Africa

Local Government and Public Works Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo has suspended Zanu-PF councillor for ward 25 in Chitungwiza Fredrick Mabamba for alleged illegal land allocations in the dormitory town. According to the letter which is in possession of The Herald, Dr Chombo has ordered councillor Mabamba to immediately stop conducting any council business. "Pursuant to the deployment of an investigation team to look into allegations of illegal disposal of land in Chitungwiza Municipality and Seke District, I hereby in terms of Section 114(1) (d) (ii) of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15 suspend you from the office of councillor of ward 25 with immediate effect for your involvement in the alleged illicit land allocations.” Dr Chombo said the suspension is a result of findings presented by the investigation team which was deployed to Chitungwiza to probe allegations of illegal disposal of land in the town. "During the period of the said suspension, you shall not conduct any business for or on behalf of council, within or outside council premises and you shall not be eligible to receive any remuneration," The minister said the suspended councillor will face due legal process to ensure the governance code is fully observed.

Clean water should not be a pipe dream
CNN World

In the last 30 years Zimbabwe’s water and sanitation situation has deteriorated. Over the past year eight communities in and around Harare once had functioning toilets that are now out of order because of lack of water. People reported that sometimes raw sewage would back up through the toilets and spill into their homes. In some neighbourhoods, burst pipes let sewage into the streets. Flies which can carry disease from sewage into people’s homes as they hop from faeces to food were everywhere. Many people are desperate for water, often resorting to contaminated sources like shallow wells that can become easily mixed with sewage. The water crisis has forced residents like Louisa to move from indoor plumbing and a flush toilet to squatting outdoors. This backward slide has been devastating for people’s health. In 2008 and 2009, the country was ravaged by cholera, a disease spread by contact with faeces and faeces-contaminated water. More than 4,200 people died, and over 100,000 were sickened. Harare residents say they were terrified of another epidemic, but with no clean water and no sanitation services, they did not know how to protect themselves. Their fears are warranted. One third of the global population does not have access to adequate sanitation, and one out of every ten people does not have access to potable water. In Zimbabwe, diarrhoea is the number one killer of children under five. In Zimbabwe, as in other places, the government says that improving access to water and sanitation requires an overwhelming investment, out of reach given the country’s economic situation. Zimbabwe’s economy is just beginning to recover from its 2008 crash, when years of economic mismanagement by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF resulted in severe hyperinflation.

Dam project displaces hundreds of families in Zimbabwe

Several thousand people in south-eastern Zimbabwe's drought-prone Masvingo Province have had to leave their ancestral homes and villages in exchange for plots of undeveloped land lacking any infrastructure, in order to make way for the construction of a dam. The Tokwe-Mukosi dam is being built by an Italian company, Salini, with funding from the Zimbabwean government, to provide irrigation to the local communal area of Chivi, which is vulnerable to recurrent food insecurity due to the area’s low rainfall. The dam will also supply water to the city of Masvingo, where severe water shortages have been experienced in recent years. Construction began in the 1990s but stopped a decade later when Zimbabwe's economy experienced hyperinflation, and only resumed after the formation of the Government of National Unity in 2009. If successfully completed, Tokwe-Mukosi is set to become the largest inland dam in the country, with a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters and a flood area covering more than 9,600 hectares.

Revisiting powers of Zimbabwe’s local authorities
The Manica Post

Following the historic referendum of March 16, 2013 when Zimbabweans voted in favour of the new home-grown constitution of Zimbabwe which came into full force on August 22, president Mugabe was sworn into office after the July 31 harmonised elections. The new government is now seized with the mammoth task of realigning all existing laws to bring them into agreement with the new constitution. This realignment process provides an opportunity for government to rethink and review the laws of this country with a view to correct shortcomings where these are known. Some of the laws that need a serious relook by government include both the rural district councils act (chapter 29:13) and the urban councils act (chapter 29:15). These two pieces of legislation govern the operations of local authorities in Zimbabwe and thus are keys to the provision of services to the majority of Zimbabweans, all of whom happen to live under the jurisdiction of either a rural or an urban local authority. Unfortunately, these two afore-cited laws have shortcomings which hinder service delivery to the populace. One such weakness is that whereas both pieces of legislation provide for sources of revenue for local authorities, the two laws do not make it easy for rural and urban councils to collect revenue from reluctant ratepayers in order to provide services. For instance, although section 151 of the Rural District Councils act provides that a council may take a defaulting ratepayer to court in order to recover unpaid levies, rates and service charges, it is common knowledge that the legal process is too time-consuming and costly for local authorities who are expected to provide services in the shortest possible time. The due process of law is time-consuming to complete considering the time it takes from when a court summons is issued to a defaulting ratepayer up to when a council obtains a judgement against the ratepayer. This is assuming that the council has done everything necessary and correct in terms of the law. Secondly, the legal process is costly because in many of the cases, councils have to hire lawyers to represent them in court and good lawyers don’t come cheap.

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