GOVERNMENT has backtracked on its earlier promise to dish out title deeds to thousands of informal settlers in areas around Harare and other parts of the country, and is now saying correct procedures for acquisition of title deeds must be followed.
In March during an election campaign rally in Epworth, President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Zanu PF supporters that illegally constructed houses in the area would be formalised by getting title deeds.
“After having seen the situation in Epworth and Harare South, we sat down and decided that those who are living in informal settlements should get title deeds. We have finished the mapping process of Harare South and Epworth. Unfortunately, we cannot give anyone title deeds at this rally as it needs planning,” Mnangagwa was quoted saying in March.
Last week, Zanu PF supporters in illegal settlements in Harare South were left counting their losses after they were evicted from a Crest Breeders International farm which they had invaded.
In Parliament last week, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Susan Matsunga (Mufakose MP) demanded to know government policy on issuance of title deeds to women and children in illegal settlements.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe responded: “I remember that in the past few days, His Excellency the President (Mnangagwa) promised that such people will be given title deeds. Indeed, as promised by the President, this is something that is ongoing. However, there are some procedures that are supposed to be done, like surveys, which will be done by the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry under minister Amon Murwira. He informed us that there are some areas which have already been surveyed.”
Kazembe added: “After the survey, then it will be determined where demarcations are and the like. So I would like to promise you that it is just a matter of time, but I believe that if Murwira was in the House, he was going to inform the House that there are some areas which are already done. What is left after the survey is the issuing out of title deeds.”
The Home Affairs minister then warned council officials who are collecting money for title deeds from desperate home seekers saying: “If these are council officials then it might be easy for us to make a follow up, but I believe these are corruption-related issues. No one is above the law. We know that there are co-operatives and land barons who were taking people’s monies. If that is the case, there is a committee and this is one of the issues that we need to investigate.”
Harare has several illegal settlements created by land barons, most of them affiliated to the ruling Zanu PF party. The land barons have been illegally parcelling out land with impunity.