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HARARE has 70 illegal housing cooperatives with the local authority urging police to expedite arrests of land barons who have continued to unlawfully settle on council land.

The arrest of the land barons will be followed by demolition of all illegal structures.

Of the 70 dubious cooperatives, 43 were in Budiriro high density suburb. Most of them forced themselves on to council land ahead of the July 31, 2013 general elections.

The Education, Health and Community Development committee of Harare last week deliberated on the matter and resolved that land barons should be arrested while council also assess the level of invasions in the city.

"The housing director reported that the city of Harare investigations committee in liaison with the police (law and order) commence investigations on land invasions on August 14," minutes of the full council meeting read.

"The investigations committee had to date identified 70 dubious housing cooperatives engaged in land invasions in various districts, with Budiriro topping the list with 43 housing cooperatives."

Twenty-five land barons have so far been arrested while council also called for the arrests of several others who were still at large.

Harare is fighting land invasions that have seen the mushrooming of illegal structures and settlements in the city.

Council has engaged police to ensure the illegal structures were demolished after facing resistance. The City Fathers roped in the police to ensure that all those who settled illegally on council properties should be arrested and brought before the court.

Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has been on a campaign to ensure no illegal settlements mushroomed.

Kasukuwere's drive has seen the demolition of some illegal houses in Budiriro, Glen Norah, Westlea and Chitungwiza.

The majority of illegal settlers have been served with 48 hour notices but have defied the order, vowing to fight back if council steps in to demolish their structures.

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