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Corrupt politicians fuel urban planning chaos

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GOVERNMENT should initiate rural industrialisation and electrification so as to curb city expansion and population growth due to rural-urban migration while blocking the further mushrooming of informal settlements across the country, a research firm says.

MERLIN GAWE

Illegal settlements in Zimbabwe’s cities have thrown urban planning into chaos. They are largely attributed to politically connected land barons.

The land barons have taken advantage of local authorities’ failure to service and provide housing stands to homeseekers, resulting in a massive housing backlog. Many desparate homeseekers have sought stands from land barons, resulting in many being swindled.

A rural electrification programme which commenced in 2002 has moved at snail’s pace and, as a result, most rural areas still rely on traditional methods of lighting.

In a commentary on land barons, FBC Securities said lack of transparency in land allocations and politicisation of land in Zimbabwe has provided fertile ground for corruption involving well-connected politicians.

This has led to the formation of dodgy housing cooperatives in the hands of land barons occupying state land unlawfully.

“The occurrence of illegal settlements remains a prevalent challenge in modern day societies, particularly in urban localities in Zimbabwe. Political and socio-economic factors plays a significant role towards the growth of informal settlements in urban areas. The evolution of land barons who give desperate home-seekers real nightmare simply aids to show the level of lawlessness that Zimbabwe has generated into over the past years,” FBC Securities noted.

“The rise in population due to rural-urban migration in search of better living conditions and job opportunities has triggered the emergence of land barons who saw an opportunity to sell state land. Rural industrialisation and electrification must be initiated by the government so as to boost rural economies. This will help to curb the issue of hasty city expansion in terms of population growth due to rural-urban migration and block further developments of informal settlements around the nation.” 

FBC Securities suggested that the Harare City Council should apply to the government for supplementary land on urban peripheral farms and un-serviced state land for housing delivery purposes. 

This is seen reducing the housing backlog. Some people have been on the city’s housing waiting list for more than 15 years.

“Informal settlements should be regularised so as to be recognised by the council so that they start paying rates to the council as most of the cooperatives are being reported for high levels of corruption amongst management,” the firm said.

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