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Government cracks whip on illegal settlements

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Government cracks whip on illegal settlements

Government cracks whip on illegal settlements

Story by Theophilus Chuma

THE government has tightened measures against illegal settlements and undesignated land allocations after directing local authorities to develop master plans by the end of June this year.

Sprouting settlements across major cities fuelled by illegal land allocations are one among many symptoms indicating governance fissures within local authorities, with revelations most have been operating without master plans for over 30 years.

At the height of this vacuum, Harare, for instance, has been operating with a master plan developed in 1993, a pattern that has been followed by most councils.

To avert further decline, the government has directed all local authorities to develop master plans to be submitted by the 30th of June this year.

The Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Honourable Winston Chitando said, “It is no longer business as usual for the local authorities. The Blueprint on a call to action for service delivery launched by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks of improved service delivery and part of this process entails developing masterplans that will guide operations of councils.”

The blueprint for service delivery is now a top priority, as the government seeks to correct the mess which has characterised local authorities for many years.

The provision of water is non-negotiable.

“We cannot allow the current situation to persist. Water should be made available every day and 24 hours a day. We are going to make sure that such basics are restored,” he added.

Under normal circumstances, the master plans should be developed within two or three years, but the government is urgently seeking to restore sanity in local authorities.

According to town planning experts, master plans will halt illegal land allocations.

Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Chief Director Spatial Planning and Development, Mr Mushamba said, “Going forward there will no longer be any sprouting settlements in cities. Everything will be planned and there is going to be enhanced transparency in terms of allocations on well-planned and designed areas.”

Experts also contend masterplans will be vital to feed into the national vision of an upper-middle-income society by 2030 through improved service delivery.