Chitungwiza — Thousands of homeowners who constructed houses on undesignated sites have been ordered by authorities to approach council to legalise their stay in the satellite town.
In a notice issued to residents this weekend, the Chitungwiza Acting Town Clerk, David Duma, said the process would start on Monday this week and all affected residents were expected to approach council to enable the authority to capture their inclusion into the its database.
"Please be advised that contrary to rumours and recent public pronouncements by some council representatives, regularisation is commencing this week on Monday morning, all houses that can be regularised will be regularised," Duma said.
He went on to dispel widespread speculation in the town that the regularisation exercise was meant to demolish houses constructed on undesignated sites.
"We have no intention to demolish homes and we will do our utmost best to accommodate most if not all of our residents where they are not in violation of sane planning principles.
"Please approach your district offices for regularisation and live in the comfort and knowledge that your home is being processed for inclusion on the council database," Duma said.
A recent government audit revealed that over 14 000 residential stands allocated to home-seekers in Chitungwiza and the neighbouring Manyame Rural District Council were illegal and that the structures built on these should be demolished.
At least 8 260 of these illegal stands were in Chitungwiza, while 6 200 were in Seke communal lands under the Manyame RDC.
Some of the houses were constructed on sites reserved for clinics, churches, schools, recreational activities, roads, while other houses were created under high voltage electricity pylons or on top of sewer pipelines.
The government audit recommended the arrest and prosecution of the land barons implicated who were mostly housing co-operative representatives, councillors and senior council officials.
The land barons are believed to have pocketed over US$20 million from the illegal land sales. However, no meaningful arrests have been made.
Chitungwiza North MP, Godfrey Sithole recently called on the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, to carry out a forensic audit on the Chitungwiza Town Council's operations.