9 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Council to Exchange Residential Land for Burial Space

A council report says there is urgent need to identify possible cemetery sites that could be developed for immediate use.

Currently, council has identified a piece of land measuring 52,754 hectares with capacity to accommodate between 107 350 and 114 270 graves after allowing for foot paths and driveways although it is still to reach an agreement with the land owner.

The owner, Mngane Ncube of Hawkflight has made it clear to council that he would only release the land in exchange for 800 residential stands.

"The proposal would therefore be to transfer the cemetery site, measuring 52,754 hectares to council, Hawkflight to be offered 800, 200m2 high density residential stands in various locations within the city as and when these became available," reads part of the council report.

The new site would have a lifespan of 17 to 19 years, assuming that 500 people are buried per month.

"It would be appreciated that due to the HIV and Aids pandemic and other related killer diseases, deaths have since increased worldwide with Zimbabwe and Bulawayo in particular being no exception to the scenario. As a result, this has impacted heavily on Bulawayo's burial space, especially considering that no new cemeteries had been developed during the recent past," the report added.

There have been clashes within council over proposals to allow private companies to operate cemeteries, with most councillors saying it was a taboo for the city fathers to cede their monopoly over cemeteries.

Mayor, Thaba Moyo has in the past proposed cremation as the long-term solution to the shortage of burial space.

Bulawayo's functional cemeteries include West Park, Luveve and Pelandaba.

Others, which include Athlone and Lady Stanley are already full.

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