Illegal settlements on the rise in Zvishavane

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Emmanuel Hove Mhike

Zvishavane Chiefs and Runde Rural District Council have blasted village heads who are masterminding the influx of illegal settlements in the District’s rural areas, it can be revealed.

Speaking during the Runde Rural District Council session on Environmental management, the responsible committee involving councilors and chiefs expressed concerns over the invasion of grazing lands, sacred forests, and river banks by illegal settlers.

Responding to illegal settlement queries from Councilors in the meeting the Zvishavane District Development Coordinator Rodwell Mtetwa said the council and chiefs should come up with by-laws to deal with the matter.

“Let the council and chiefs come up with by-laws which will regulate village heads operations. Also, not only village heads are allocating land to people the problem has become bigger and complicated hence the need for binding regulations,” he said.

Chief Masunda said the issue of giving settlement permits will help solve the problem, “Giving every new settler a number and setting them in chronological order will make sure any new settler is registered and known by the chief, the councilor, and even by the rural council.”

Daniel Ndhlovu from Muonde Trust who was also in attendance advised that the illegal settlements were fueling deforestation, land degradation, and siltation of rivers.

“The influx of illegal and disorganised settlements in rural areas is going against efforts to combat climate change. The new settlements are fueling deforestation, land degradation, and siltation of rivers,” he said.

Runde Rural District Council Chairperson, Councilor Mahuvava emphasised the need for ward-level village heads and chiefs’ induction with the District Development Coordinator.

“This issue reminds us of the importance of having an inclusive induction at the Ward level. The induction should be facilitated by the DDC and attended by the Chief, Headmen, village heads, and ward Councilor. Everyone should be made aware of his or her responsibilities, roles, and limits,” said Councilor Mahuvava.

There is a need for the local authorities to work with Chiefs in the control and establishment of village heads. The weakened traditional governance system in Zimbabwe’s rural areas has seen village heads masterminding the establishment of thousands of illegal homesteads contrary to the stipulations of traditional leaders act.

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