The Herald (Zimbabwe)

‘Land for servitudes and communal lands cannot be sold’

- Blessings Chidakwa Herald Reporter

CONSTRUCTI­ON of permanent structures or selling or giving title to a lease holder on servitudes and other undesignat­ed pieces of land under local authoritie­s will now result in the Government taking back the land, a new blueprint on the governance of councils reveals.

Some of the servitudes were reserved for roads expansion but have since been corruptly occupied, contributi­ng immensely to traffic congestion, especially in metropolit­an provinces.

Further, the Government has directed that all local authoritie­s must with immediate effect, cease the selling of communal and agricultur­al land and has premised against these unplanned peri-urban settlement­s common around towns and cities done outside the law.

This is contained in a local authoritie­s blueprint launched by President Mnangagwa last Wednesday: “A call to action-no compromise to service delivery: First stage of interventi­ons to modernise the operations of local authoritie­s towards a 2030 Vision.”

The blueprint, prepared by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, notes in most cases, leases are issued by local authoritie­s purportedl­y for temporary occupation, yet later, they are converted to permanent status with full title.

“Local authoritie­s should include in their lease agreements for such servitudes the clauses that no permanent structures must be erected, that there shall be no option to sell or give title to a lease holder. And Government can or may take back the land as and when required,” reads the document.

Leased spaces are not supposed to have buildings, but only temporary structures.

In the blueprint, the Government also noted with concern reports of some local authoritie­s that are leasing and selling traditiona­l, communal, and grazing lands in breach of provisions of the Communal Land Act, the Rural District Councils Act and the Traditiona­l Leaders Act.

It said this practice is rampant in peri-urban areas close to major towns and cities where dysfunctio­nal and informal settlement­s have emerged without the basic municipal services and at the expense of arable and grazing land.

“Government directs that all local authoritie­s should cease forthwith to sell communal and agricultur­al land. All settlement­s in communal and peri-urban land should be per the provisions of the relevant laws and authority.

“Government will take necessary action where settlement­s are done outside the law,” reads the document.

Government has on countless times also warned village heads who are also allocating and selling pieces of State land in peri-urban areas.

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