chombo latest.jpgLocal Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo has directed all councils that have embarked on an unauthorised spree, converting open spaces into residential areas to stop the practice forthwith.

Addressing a media briefing at his offices in Harare, Minister Chombo said open spaces are an important feature of urban planning and are reserved to maintain the decorum of residential areas.

In contrast to town planning regulations, sports fields, recreational facilities, open spaces, and wetlands are all being turned into residential areas, and most of the time, the local authorities claim that they are allocating infill stands.

Dr Chombo said surveillance committees have been activated to ensure that all local authorities comply with the directive.

Asked what measures the ministry was going to take against councils that fail to comply with the directive, Dr Chombo did not outline the exact measures but emphasized that appropriate action will be taken against  offending councils.

Chitungwiza Municipality and Harare City Council have been cited as the major culprits in failing to adhere to town planning regulations.

A survey conducted in Chitungwiza revealed that all open spaces in the surburb including areas reserved for playgrounds, car parks and recreational parks have been allocated as residential stands.

Some corrupt councillors have even gone to the extent of allocating one stand to multiple beneficiaries.