Zimbabwe: Mutare City Runs Out of Land, Turns to Corner Stands, Air Pockets

26 September 2019

Mutare city council has exhausted its land bank for development purposes, forcing it to parcel out land previously set aside as reserves, officials have revealed.

Mutare City Mayor Blessing Thandi made these remarks while addressing a multi stakeholder engagement on land tenure rights organized by Transparency International Zimbabwe, where he said government was stifling acquisition of new land by failing to release the master plan.

Thandi said they requested for a master plan from government but have been frustrated despite the central government commitment for urban renewal.

He added that the housing waiting list is currently standing at fifty thousand for residential stands, with fifteen thousand preferring land in low density areas.

"We have legacy issues that need to be addressed, we started the process of getting a master planning in 2016, there has been disagreements with the central government to devolve powers to the local government, up until today we have not received this document form central government.

"Mutare city does not have any developmental land around the city, as we speak we are now going in to develop corner stands and air pockets which had been previously set aside for other purposes because we have no land as a city.

"Currently we have 50000 people on the housing waiting list, of those 15 000 are eyeing land in low density suburbs, but we do not have land we are mountain locked," said Thandi.

He added that they are in the process of coming up with a land policy to ensure allocations are done in a standard manner.

"As a city to provide a long-term solution to the issue of land which is a non-renewable resource, and to ensure that we parcel out land in a standard manner, we are coming up with a land policy that we are coming up with as a city," he added.

Thandi accused the central government of selling land taking over the role of local councils who are custodians at the local level.

"Ministry of Lands is now also selling land there is duplication of roles, they are selling land on our infrastructure we are just there to regularize as a lower tier of government.

"We need to devolve certain powers given to certain ministries to regularize how land is being parceled out, that is causing a lot of problems because we are expected to meet these costs as council," he said.

TIZ head of programmes Farai Mutondori said there was need to address legacy issues linked to flawed town planning which was designed based on racial lines.

"We must separate corruption and a colonial legacy, research on town planning states that current challenges in urban areas are not because of corruption but embedded in the colonial legacy of racial discrimination system which was used to design the current urban set up,"said Mutondori.

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