The on-going land grab by Zanu PF activists appears to have gone out of control in Harare where hundreds of party supporters are parcelling out unserviced pieces of land in high-density suburbs, in defiance of the party’s top leadership.
REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU
NewsDay yesterday visited Glen View Area 1, Glen View Area 7, Glen Norah A and Kuwadzana Extension where local Zanu PF officials were allocating residential and commercial stands to supporters.
In Glen View Area 1 Ward 3B, the open space between Glen View and Glen Norah A flats had been invaded and there was a hive of activity as Zanu PF activists were busy pegging and allocating stands to scores of home-seekers.
Zanu PF beneficiaries were being asked to pay between $10 and $20 for various sizes of properties after vetting to establish their party membership.
Non-party members, particularly MDC-T supporters, were being ordered to bring their party regalia for destruction — through burning — in an exercise the Zanu PF officials said would be done in the presence of the Press, before they could be considered for the stands.
NewsDay has over the past week reported similar land invasions in areas including Damofalls, Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma, Mufakose, Mabvuku and many locations in the town of Chitungwiza.
Local authorities have dissociated themselves from the chaotic land grab.
An official from Chitungwiza’s planning and engineering department said council was “aware of the development, but is not involved”.
Contacted for comment over yesterday’s invasions, Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman Amos Midzi said he was not aware of such action by the party members, which action he described as unlawful.
“As a party, we do not condone this. If there is anybody taking a responsibility that is not theirs, they should know they are doing something very illegal. If there are any Zanu PF members or leaders involving themselves, we will take action,” Midzi said.
Earlier this week, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa also disowned the invaders and said his party did not condone such “silly and corrupt” behaviour.
“It’s false, absolutely false (that Zanu PF sanctioned the invasions),” Mutasa said.
“If anything, we are stopping it. There are people doing it purporting to be Zanu PF. Zanu PF does not do anything silly and corrupt like that.”
Harare provincial administrator Alfred Tome also professed ignorance over the invasions, saying: “We have not been informed. Let me try and find out.”
In Glen View 1, a Zanu PF activist who identified herself as Cde Martha could be seen directing the allocations, moving from one stand to another and calling out allocation priority numbers which she and her colleagues had issued out to scores of home-seekers milling around the area.
Asked how the process was going, Martha said: “We conduct a vetting process before allocating the stands. One has to convince us that he/she is a Zanu PF member who knows our grassroot structures and the party’s values in order to benefit. We also consider opposition party members, but on condition that they renounce their membership, bring their party regalia and we burn them in the presence of the media.”
Sources said local party members met on Tuesday where a resolution to take over the Glen View piece of land was made.
One Cde Chipango was said to be the chairperson of the ward. Efforts to locate him were, however, fruitless as he was said to be away.
Across Glen View 7, in Ward 31, similar allocations were taking place on a site that has, for years, been used for market gardening by residents.
Zanu PF chairperson for the area was identified only as Cde Shinya.
All those that NewsDay spoke to refused to give the full names of the officials behind the allocations, threateningly demanding to know what the full names were needed for.
Over 40 stands had been allocated at the site in Glen View 7 by the time NewsDay got there yesterday morning.
Beneficiaries were being made to pay a non-refundable registration fee of $10.
A similar exercise was running concurrently in Glen Norah Ward 30, opposite the Glen View Area 8 home industrial site.
Here, stands for flea markets, measuring about six square metres, were being parcelled out.
No registration fee was being paid for these stands where one Cde Mandaza was superintending the process.
In Chitungwiza, a Zanu PF “gang” reportedly led by a newly-elected councillor has been parcelling out council land at many open spaces in existing residential areas since last month.
They have invaded open spaces in Units A, C, F, K, J, L and O and also in Zengeza and St Mary’s.
Former councillor for Mabvuku Enias Gengezha last week said the illegal settlement near the high-density suburb had grown significantly since the run-up to the July 31 polls, with the current population illegally living there now estimated at more than 5 000 people.
The illegal settlements, according to residents in the existing council properties, have reportedly affected the value of the legitimate houses.
Residents in areas like Damofalls, Ruwa, where illegal settlers have mushroomed at an area called KwaBob, have complained about the dangers of disease outbreak following the recent “land redistribution” fiasco.
They were also concerned that the value of their properties would be compromised by the haphazard settlements where unscrupulous self-made land barons were subdividing illegitimate stands and selling them for as little as $400 in an area where formally acquired stands of the same size are valued at around $8 000.
Click here to read NewsDay’s last week story on the issue.