Yeukai Karengezeka Municipal Correspondent
Illegal settlements in various urban areas are straining councils that are often forced to offer humanitarian services to populations beyond their jurisdiction.
The practice is prejudicing local authorities that are already strained by services they offer to billed residents.
Speaking on the side-lines of a recently held international workshop on Connective Cities Regional Dialogue, Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) president Councillor Josiah Makombe said illegal settlements were a headache for all councils.
He blamed land barons for the mushrooming settlements.
Clr Makombe said it was difficult for the authorities to balance between offering services to billed residents and non-billed residents.
“The challenge is that the services that we give are on humanitarian grounds so that we try to avoid dangerous situations like outbreak of diseases like typhoid and cholera,” he said.
“They (illegal settlers) are not paying for the services and at times you find out that the developer did not do a good job that even our trucks cannot navigate to pick up waste from those areas.”
Clr Makombe, who is also the Gweru mayor, said they were engaging Government to ensure that the illegal structures get either regularised or demolished.
“We are engaging Government to say these things be either demolished or regularised where appropriate,” he said. “It may sound very rude or cruel, but at the end of the day people should not take the law into their own hands.
“It is the duty of a local authority to approve any developments that takes place in its local jurisdiction and for anyone to come and put a structure that is not approved by the local authority, it is a pity.”
Clr Makombe applauded Government’s initiative of setting up the Land Commission.
“I am happy that Government is also saying the issue of illegal settlements is coming to an end and with the land audit that is happening across the country it will yield good results,” he said.
“I am sure they will come up with policies that will stop this from happening from now onwards.”