Municipal Courts on cards: War against land barons rages as council cops to assume arresting powers

By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

GOVERNMENT is crafting an enabling legislative framework for establishment of municipal courts across the country, giving council police officers arresting powers.

The impending laws would specify how municipal cops and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) collaborate to bring sanity in major cities and towns.

Addressing journalists during a post Cabinet briefing Tuesday, acting Information Minister, Jenfan Muswere said a purse had been availed to empower councils to enforce by-laws.

Municipal courts are expected to preside over land allocation disputes, cases involving illegal vending, traffic offences, among other functions.

“Accordingly, devolution funds will be available to the Harare City Council and other urban municipalities for the purpose of strengthening the local authorities’ law enforcement capacity.

“Meanwhile, the relevant legislation is being reviewed for the ZRP and municipal police to work together more efficiently, and for the establishment of Municipal Courts,” said Muswere.

Regarding investigation and prosecution of land barons, Muswere said 347 arrests were made, and 91 cases were before the courts, while 57 had since been finalised, with six convictions having been secured.

He said Cabinet adopted the progress report on implementation of Phase 2 of the Enhanced Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Programme, which was presented by the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

Under the project to regularise dysfunctional, illegal and irregular settlements, government has prioritised construction of flats at Dzivarasekwa in Harare and Senga in Gweru, with a target of at least two relocation sites in each city or town.

“Construction works on the four blocks of flats funded by government at Dzivarasekwa have now progressed to 65, 8% of completion.

“Roads and sewer construction are each 95% complete, while the car park and culvert are 75% and 100% complete, respectively. Overall progress on the four blocks at the Senga Former Messengers Camp in Gweru stands at 31, 75%.

“Cabinet wishes to highlight that payments to contractors for budgeted infrastructural projects are being expedited, following the completion of value-for-money and due diligence exercises which were being undertaken on the projects,” the minister said.

On mapping of settlements against approved layout plans, the public was advised that significant progress had been achieved.

“Following the successful mapping of settlements at Caledonia, Hopley, Saturday Retreat, Cowdray Park, Retreat Farm, Gimboki (Mutare) and Karoi, the Zimbabwe Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) has further mapped settlements at Eyecourt, Eyerstone, Chizororo, Derbyshire and Granville.

“The next stage involves verification of settlements to determine those which conform to  planned land-use in order to allow for regularisation, followed by issuance of title deeds.”

Muswere also highlighted the Second Republic was addressing concerns of planned settlements without adequate basic services.

“In that respect, it will be recalled that focus has been on addressing infrastructure provision on an initial 16 Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle settlements identified countrywide.

“Highlights include the commencement of works at the Lupane Local Board Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle site and the completion of engineering designs for onsite infrastructure such as sewer and roads at the Gwanda Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle site.”

He said government noted and sternly warns against the sprouting of settlements on State-owned land.

The minister said punitive action would be taken against those, including politicial leaders, found in breach of the country’s rural and urban land use laws.

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