(Last Updated on October 13, 2020 by Editor)
HARARE – The recent Demolitions affecting most Harare and Chitungwiza suburbs are as a result of Ignatius Chombo and Savior Kasukuwere election campaign tools on state, council and wetlands in flagrant disregard of city procedures and by-laws, Harare Mayor, His Worship Cllr Jacob Mafume has asserted.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with zimDaily, Cllr Mafume said the City of Harare and Chitungwiza Town Council will hold a joint press conference to further clarify on the issue of current demolitions.
“People must know that when they buy land for a song, something must be wrong. When they get land for singing a slogan, something must be wrong.
“We have a situation of legacy issues, most of the land you are talking about is state land. Municipalities do not yet have authority over that land. You remember this was land given to Nehanda Cooperative, Tongogara Cooperative, Mgagao Cooperative and so forth, so from the names, you can see the parentage, ” said Mafume.
He added that, it is because of this reason that council no longer deals with housing cooperatives but the individuals involved as land barons continue to mushroom in these settlements.
“This process has been taken over by land barons, people who simply sell open spaces of land and pretend and lie that they are close to the President, close to Zanu-Pf or close to whatever power broker will be powerful at that particular point in time,” added the Mayor.
He pointed out that State land ought to be transferred to council for servicing before it can be parcelled out to homeseekers. However, this has not been the case.
“What should happen is that state land should be transferred to urban councils with nothing on it so that we build and we move with it, but currently the land is populated and by the time it wants to be transferred to the city council there are problems,” said the mayor.
He added that “some have invaded land that is private that eventually the owner would come after the land and destroy whatever has grown on his land…”
He further emphasised that, where people have been settled and the land is actually meant for residential settlement, council is regularising. Those settled on areas meant for schools, recreational facilities, clinics and any other such developments will have to move from their sites.
The Mayor of the metropolitan City also implored government to give devolution a chance so as to give Councils capacity to manage their finances and allow them to have leverage and access various loan facilities that will allow them to develop the cities.
He also touched on a number of critical issues which include clinics and roads.
Speaking on the many clinics under the local authority that have been closed, the Mayor said they will be reopened as his council was going to comply with the Court order recently given.
This follows the court order that gave council until the 14 of October to reopen all the closed clinics after Harare City Council was taken to court by Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) over the closures.
“As you know at the advent of Covid-19 government issued a letter saying it has taken responsibility of the health care of the country. So the jurisdiction of the health care matters is within the Ministry of Health under government, said the Harare Mayor.
“Speaking for Council, we need clarity on the take because we assumed that it also meant that they will takeover the salaries of our health care workers. Apparently that is not the case. Negotiations are going on to establish that our health care workers be given the same conditions that are being given govt workers.”
The Mayor said due to incapacitation declared by Council health care workers, they had to prioritize those dealing with Covid-19, maternity and serious cases.
“We have to comply with court orders, we will have to open. We will have to ensure that the opening is not academic, it is an opening which is relevant or which is able to provide real service to the people and that requires cooperation from central government.
“Remember we are contributing to the health care of the country but we are not getting the dues that we are supposed to get in terms of the Health Act. Government is supposed to contribute 50% of what we contribute to the health of the city, we last received that 50% in 1996.”
While addressing the water situation, he admitted that the water situation remained critical.
Mafume highlighted that they were facing challenges mainly to pay for the chemicals which are charged in United States Dollars.
“We should have capacity through Morton Jeffery and water bodies that are existing to be able to give water at about 400 megalitres per day or close to 500 megalitres per day and that should last the whole City and that amount of water per day should be able to then at least provide for every suburb….
“The challenge is the issue of chemicals, we are being paid in Rtgs from the residents and the price of chemicals that we are being supplied ironically by resident companies is now being charged in US Dollars.
“So we are still living in the budget that was based on the fiction of 1:1 and yet we are paying for the chemicals. We need about 3 to 5 million US dollars per month for the chemicals that we are using for water. Our supplementary budget has not been approved, so we are working with the budget from last year, ” he clarified.
He added that there was need to introduce pre-paid water system as the post paid system was not working because residents were not paying for the water they use.
The Mayor stressed out that ZINWA was not building dams in areas that directly provide to residential areas but focusing more on “unknown future irrigation schemes” .
Quizzed on the road situation, the Mayor said there was a need for Council to be given back the licensing ability so that they access the funds needed to maintain the roads.
He agreed that there was need for the city to improve in the area of waste collection system, adding also the responsibility of residents in the process.
“We need a new littering culture. People need to stop throwing litter down the drain, literary. We need to have a waste management system that is good. If you go to Bulawayo, if you go to cities like Windhoek, people are ashamed to throw papers on the floor. In Harare you see papers flying outside moving vehicles, ” he said.
Mafume recently took over from former Mayor, Cllr Hebert Gomba who was recalled by MDC T for belonging to the MDC Alliance.