The ZANU PF led seizure of urban land in and around Harare is causing chaos in the capital, with hundreds of plots in high density areas being illegally parceled out to 'proven' party supporters.
Known ZANU PF activists across the city have been identified by local media and residents, pegging and allocating stands on unused plots of land, including land that is not suitable for housing.
The stands have been cropping up in Glen View, Glen Norah, Kuwadzana, Damofalls, Kambuzuma, Mufakose, Mabvuku and many parts of Chitungwiza. Prospective land owners, who are first told to prove their party membership, are being asked to pay down-payments of between $10 and $20 to secure the land. This is then followed by a monthly fee, which is understood to be going directly into the pockets of ZANU PF authorities.
A local resident told SW Radio Africa, on condition of anonymity, that he 'bought' a piece of land in Mufakose last year from a housing cooperative and was paying monthly installments. He said that he became suspicious before the elections, when officials from the same housing cooperative ordered him to attend ZANU PF rallies and register to vote.
He eventually discovered that the cooperative was not registered, was unknown to the local council, and was made up of known ZANU PF activists. He has since stopped paying the monthly rates on the land, and said he believes the land has been given to a new beneficiary.
SW Radio Africa's correspondent Simon Muchemwa said on Friday that similar incidents have been reported across the city. He said that the process of parceling out land on a partisan basis began last year, when a number of housing cooperatives started appearing, with access to council land.
"But it turned out that these were ZANU PF people purporting to be housing cooperatives, who were taking unused land and allocating it to supporters. Towards the elections, people were being forced to attend rallies and then register to vote in the areas where they got the stands. So it wasn't a surprise when the election results showed an increase in ZANU PF voters in Harare," Muchemwa reported.
He explained that much of the land now being taken over by ZANU PF was originally intended to be used by the City Council for recreational facilities, or sold on for commercial space.
"None of these properties have anything like water pipes, or electricity or anything. Some of the land is even so bad for housing because it is on wetlands. In short it is all chaotic," Muchemwa said.
The NewsDay newspaper also reported on the chaos this week. An investigation by that paper found that potential land beneficiaries, who were not ZANU PF supporters, were told to surrender their MDC-T or MDC regalia for destruction. According to the NewsDay report, ZANU PF officials said this would be done by burning "in the presence of the Press, before they could be considered for the stands."
The newspaper also reported that high level ZANU PF authorities have tried to distance the party from the land grabs. The report quoted ZANU PF Harare provincial chairman Amos Midzi, who said he was not aware of such action by the party members.
"As a party, we do not condone this. If there is anybody taking a responsibility that is not theirs, they should know they are doing something very illegal. If there are any ZANU PF members or leaders involving themselves, we will take action," Midzi reportedly said.
Didymus Mutasa also reportedly disowned the land invaders and said his party did not condone such "silly and corrupt" behaviour.