Government is accelerating plans to regularise Churu Farm in Harare, which has more than 6 500 families that were illegally settled three years ago. Deputy director in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Mr Aaron Mazingaiso said they were in the process of preparing the necessary papers to bring sanity to the area.
He said Government was in the process of changing the status of the land from private to State land after which it will be handed over to council for planning.
"We conducted a research on the ownership of Churu Farm and discovered that the process of turning Churu to State land was not finalised," said Mr Mazingaiso.
"Once it is complete, Government will hand over the land to council for proper planning."
Mr Mazingaiso expressed concern that despite Government's efforts to regularise the settlement, the MDC-Alliance councillor for Ward 1 (under which the area falls), Mr Tendai Katsaira, had allegedly set up an office to collect money from settlers.
"It's so disturbing for a councillor as a policy maker to collect money from residents under the guise of facilitating the regularisation of the residents' stay," said Mr Mazingaiso.
Clr Katsaira was alleged to have connived with a private developer, Mr Tonderai Muchemwa, to set up an office at the site and has been collecting money from the settlers which he alleges is for developing and regularising settlements on the farm.
Prior to the establishment of the parallel office, Mr Muchemwa went to Harare City Council seeking authority to rehabilitate Amalinda Road which stretches from Glen View 1 to the farm.
He held a meeting with the residents where he alleged that he had been granted a licence to turn the farm into a residential area by the Harare City Council.
Mr Muchemwa then started collecting $15 per stand from close to 6 500 people at the farm. He also sidelined Amalinda Housing Union, which had been overseeing affairs at the farm.
Clr Katsaira announced at the same meeting that the housing union had been dissolved and he was in charge of the settlement together with his accomplice, Mr Muchemwa.
Amalinda Housing Union executive member Mr Maxwell Tokotore said Clr Katsaira was offside.
"Officials from the ministry responsible for cooperatives advised us to stop asking residents to pay money until a system that involves the City of Harare is in place," he said.
"The ground is still under planning stages. Therefore, this is not the time to collect money. The councillor just wants to line his pockets."
Mr Tokotore alleged that Clr Katsaira went on to sell stands in areas reserved for social amenities like schools, creches and hospitals, after duping people that he had the power to influence the regularisation of the area.
Clr Katsaira denied the allegations.
He said Mr Muchemwa initiated the development without his knowledge, adding that he actually reported him to the police at Glen View 7 police base after information reached him that he (Mr Muchemwa) was collecting money from residents.
"We questioned him, and checked whether he was a licensed developer, but since he had already collected money from the residents we allowed him to develop roads only," said Clr Katsaira.
"We formed a developmental committee to supervise the construction of the roads."
Clr Katsaira denied sidelining Amalinda Housing Union, insisting the union was still in charge of Churu Farm.