OVER 15 urban settlements countrywide are undergoing aerial mapping expected to be completed by end of March, as part of an elaborate process to issue title deeds to urban dwellers whose properties were not yet regularised.
Suburbs mapped under the first phase include Eyecourt, Retreat, Caledonia and Hopley in Harare, Cowdray Park in Bulawayo, and suburbs in Karoi, Mutare and Masvingo.
The first batch of title deeds will be distributed to households in areas where houses were built on undesignated land, while the second phase will cover residential areas built on legal settlements.
The project is being spearheaded by Ministries of National Housing and Social Amenities; Local Government and Public Works; and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said the Government has already started processing title deeds for some beneficiaries.
“We have started processing title deeds for some settlements which were not properly built. In Harare, we are starting with Caledonia, Domboshava and Hatcliffe. We also have Gimboki in Mutare in Manicaland. We are then going to do it countrywide, including in rural district councils,” he said.
“The issue of title deeds is not an event, but a process. We are going to cover the whole country. The President wants to protect beneficiaries from being continuously fleeced by land barons and land developers.
Where there are children whose parents died, the title deeds will be given to the children.”
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Permanent Secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira said the first phase will prioritise dysfunctional and irregular settlements.
“The aerial survey will be done and data is processed to produce an orthomosaic (large, map-quality image), which will be spatially integrated with layout plans from the Department of Spatial Planning from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. General plans from the Surveyor-General’s Office for surveyed areas will then be spatially integrated with aerial photos to identify settlements constructed in conformity with the layout plan/general plan,” he said.
Settlements conforming to the plan will subsequently be regularised, subject to confirmation of land ownership, while those constructed outside the layout plan will be clearly indicated and quantified.
For Harare alone, there are 15 suburbs which include Retreat, Caledonia, Hopley, Eye Court, and Hatfield. Mapping will also include cities such as Karoi (Chiedza farm), Mutare (Gimboki farm), Bulawayo (Cowdray Park) and Masvingo (Victoria Range)
Prof Tagwira added: “We are supposed to be through by the end of March to map all areas. Currently, we are being delayed by the weather because we cannot fly drones when it is raining.”
Acting Director of Spatial Planning and Development in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Honesty Magaya said those whose settlements conform with Government plans will be prioritised in the issuance of title deeds.
“The programme will be rolled out in settlements that are not regularised first. We have already given the list of suburbs to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development,” said Mr Magaya.
“Regularisation will also entail relocating people in some of these settlements. So those who agree to such arrangements will be first considered in the programme.”
Responding to questions in Parliament last week, Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly Mr Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is also Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said some beneficiaries will include those with residential stands allocated to them before Independence.
“Government, through the Ministries of Local Government and that of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development undertook an exercise to ensure that they re-plan and regularise certain settlements,” he said.
“The Government is undertaking this project fully aware of what is required of it and the number of households that we need to issue title deeds. So, yes, indeed we are up to it and we believe that is the only route that is just and equitable.”
Last year, the Government launched the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP), a programme to spearhead the development of modern and affordable urban and rural human settlement and social amenities in a coordinated and sustainable manner.
Under ZNHSP, the country aims to build 225 000 housing units by 2025.
(The Sunday Mail)