More than Hundred Zanu PF youths have invaded an open space in Hatcliffe suburb earmarked for expansion of a Harare City Council sewer treatment plant, as the ruling party seeks to strengthen its power base ahead of the 2018 elections.
The youths have erected makeshift structures out of plastic and thatch, as well as an office, where those interested in residential stands were being vetted and paying registration fees.
When NewsDay visited the area adjacent to land allocated to the University of Zimbabwe for residential development and a Harare City Council sewer treatment plant yesterday, youths were busy building makeshift structures.
Some of them claimed they had the blessing of the party leadership, including central committee and politburo members.
“If you want a stand, you have to follow procedure and join the party. You come with a letter of recommendation because we cannot accommodate everyone. We are on the ground and no one will remove us here. This is our land. Our President said every youth should own a residential stand,” one of the youth leaders said after enquiries about how they obtained the land.
However, upon noticing they were talking to journalists, there was sudden change of attitude prompting the news crew to leave in haste.
Some people in Hatcliffe extension also expressed concern over the sprouting settlement.
Others said they feared the youths would end up encroaching into their serviced land or cause social and political troubles.
Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme promised to establish whose land it was and how the youths came to erect their makeshift structures there.
However, some Zanu PF leaders disowned the youths, while urging police to take action before the situation gets out of hand.
“We don’t condone any invasion. We have our land, which is enough for all the youths to get residential stands. As leaders, we don’t encourage what they did and if it is true that they are erecting structures, then let me alert the local leadership and the police to remove them,” Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairperson, Edson Takataka said.
Harare North MP, Tongesayi Mudambo (Zanu PF) also distanced himself from the squatters.
“I am not part of that arrangement. They are saying they have papers from the Local Government ministry, but I have never seen the papers so I cannot say if they are illegal or legal occupants. I am not involved,” he said.
Land barons and other named Zanu PF members have caused trouble in urban areas by illegally parcelling out land, a practice that often resulted in demolitions.