Chairpersons and executives of housing cooperatives in the illegal settlements should be treated as suspects in the defrauding of thousands of desperate home seekers and settling people on wetlands without government or council authority, Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has said.
In a statement following their recent visit to Kuwadzana Paddocks and Budiriro where hundreds of people were affected by floods, HRT said residents settled on wetlands should be relocated.
Wetlands are being destroyed in most communities, with corrupt councillors, council district officials, town planners and political party leaders conniving with land barons to unprocedurally conduct land sales targeting wetlands, recreational and other open spaces.
“Identified chairpersons or executives of housing cooperatives in the illegal settlements should be treated as suspects in the defrauding of thousands of desperate home seekers and settling people on wetlands without government or council authority,” read the statement.
“The Police should be given the power to investigate and arrest all those implicated in the illegal land sales.
“During our tour in Budiriro, we found out that most of the housing cooperative executives did not want the government or the council to help the affected victims of flooding. The HRT has observed that the victims and the land barons all protect each other.”
According to HRT, the victims are refusing to disclose the identity of those who sold them their stands except while insisting that they have council-issued documents which gives them the legal rights to be in those places.
“The land barons, council technocrats and councillors all insist that there is no more land to relocate these people.
“Relocate all the people illegally settled on wetlands to land serviced by the council, at the expense of the affected people.
“The affected people paid huge amounts of money to corrupt land barons and council officials using unverified documentation. Every resident should take the responsibility to approach their local council office to verify the authenticity of site plans and other related documents before parting with their money,” read the statement.
As a result of the recent torrents, a six-year-old was swept away by floodwaters and later found dead in Budiriro.