Home » Governance » Chitungwiza Must Ensure Win-Win On Nyatsime Stands

Chitungwiza Municipality appears to have made a bureaucratic mess of the Nyatsime Housing Scheme, selling stands before the land has been handed over to the council, the town’s boundaries formally extended and the necessary services put in place. Two groups are suffering as a result. First there are the people, up to 15 000, who have paid for stands on the area that includes Bramaer Farm and secondly, the farmers on that farm who live in a great deal of uncertainty over what is going to happen.

Now the High Court has suspended any occupation of the area pending finalisation of the dispute this will probably require more than just a ruling on what is the position today.

The only sensible way out of the imbroglio is to start doing what should have been done from the very beginning and for the Government and Chitungwiza Municipality to go through the well-defined series of steps required to turn a farm into a suburb.

Towns and cities do grow and do extend their borders, and urban councils do acquire former farming land for council housing schemes, as well as incorporating into their boundaries private and Government housing schemes.

This is done quite often with little problem even Harare city council, hardly the most efficient of all entities, manages it without having to appear in court.

Generally speaking, urban development has priority over farming and farmers living on the borders of urban areas know, in their hearts of hearts, that sooner of later they are likely to lose their land.

The Greater Harare master-plan and the Chitungwiza local plans make it clear that the town can expand.

Even if the farmers disagree the State has the power to take the land.

But when this happens there is full compensation and adequate notice so that the farmers can start again somewhere else they are not supposed to lose by the change.

This now has to be done with the farmers allocated new land and compensated for the improvements they have put in place, and preferably everything arranged so that the move takes place almost instantly after one harvest and before the next season.

The second set of legal actions is for the council to have the land incorporated into the municipality.

This requires a Presidential proclamation, or in this case it might require more than one since it is likely that district and provincial boundaries will be affected by an expansion of Chitungwiza.

This is something that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has to arrange.

Finally, the land needs to be surveyed and serviced before people can move onto it and start building.

Services are roads, water mains and, in this case, sewers.

The selling price might well have included the cost of these services, since what turns cheap farm land into expensive building plots are precisely these services.

What cannot be allowed to happen is for people to move onto the land before the services are in place.

The health hazard would be intolerable, and there are a whole lot of other requirements ranging from plan approval and a rating structure before people can be allowed to buy bricks and cement.

We are disturbed that although people were paying for these stands seven years ago, nothing has been done to implement the housing scheme properly.

The town has had the money, from those who bought the stands and paid US dollar top-ups later, and the time to turn a paper plan into reality.

The law in this case is not complex and is largely a formalisation of common sense measures.

Chitungwiza now needs to follow the correct legal path, engage the Local Government ministry and follow the necessary steps to create its new suburbs.

Source : The Herald