BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/TAFADZWA KACHIKO
CHITUNGWIZA Municipality has halted demolition of illegal structures that have sprouted in the dormitory town until it received “policy direction” from central government.
The local authority announced the move after Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) demanded to be furnished with a list of residential stands earmarked for demolition.
Chitrest, through its lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Idirashe Chikomba, had on January 13 written to council demanding a list of properties awaiting demolition after the local authority, in a leaked memorandum dated January 12, 2021, announced plans to demolish over 11 000 illegal structures.
In a statement, acting town clerk Tonderai Kasu said the issue of demolitions and regularisation had been put on hold as they required policy direction.
“It is noted as well that you have taken interest in the status of, and progress regarding regularisation of illegal settlements in Chitungwiza. You are hereby informed that the issues of both demolitions and regularisation are matters that require policy direction.
“This policy direction is supposed to come from both local and national levels, which consists of Cabinet, and our parent ministry of Local Government and Public Works,” Kasu said.
“Many of the issues you are raising with respect to both demolitions and regularisation are still the subject of policy formulation discussions that are taking place at both local and national level and hence at the present time the administration of the municipality is waiting for guidance in the form of policy direction on these matters.”
He said any administrative action to be taken by the municipality would be subject to compliance with section 74 of the Constitution.
Over the years, Chitungwiza has been experiencing problems of illegal structures built on spaces reserved for clinics, churches, schools, cemeteries, recreational activities, roads, under high voltage electricity pylons and on wetlands.
Meanwhile, the St Mary’s Clinic, which had been closed since January 14 due to staff shortages after seven frontline health workers tested positive to COVID-19, has been reopened.
Kasu told stakeholders in a notice that the clinic was still short-staffed even if 24 of the workers that tested positive to the coronavirus recovered after self-isolation. The council has four clinics. The others are Zengeza Clinic, Seke North and Seke South.