Government has embarked on an exercise to regularise all illegal settlements in urban centres across the country and has engaged experts to expedite the process. BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA Speaking at a Zanu PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Marondera at the weekend, National Housing and Social Amenities minister Daniel Garwe said those who were duped of their money by land barons should relax as his ministry had begun regularising their stay. “The time for land barons is over and we cannot sit back and relax while they continue to frustrate our people. However, we are going to regularise the illegal settlements and we are going to bring in experts who will come up with proper plans so that the settlements become habitable,” he said. “By this, I mean the experts will work on roads and sewer reticulation systems and this will see some of the settlers being affected in the process. Those who are going to be affected will be compensated. We are currently mulling construction of flats in a bid to save land.” Garwe has since visited Solomio and Caledonia areas in Goromonzi South, where he launched the regularisation exercise before ordering the dwellers to stop paying money to land barons. Meanwhile, close to 1 000 youths and civil servants have benefited from a housing programme currently underway in Melfort, Goromonzi. The project, dubbed Diamond Park and being led by youths in the area, will also see war veterans and the disabled people being given the chance to acquire residential stands. Garwe added that his ministry would also look for investors willing to invest in the regularised areas to improve the lives of the people. Rogers Pote, who is Eastwinds Trust director and Zanu PF youth league provincial executive member, said the regularisation of the settlements would benefit a lot of home seekers. “We are happy with this move by government to regularise all illegal settlements as well as securing investors who are willing to inject their capital in the current projects,” he said. “A number of youths are in dire need of residential stands and we are confident that the government is ready to address that.” In Melfort, about 20% war veterans from Goromonzi district are set to benefit from the 1 500 stands established at Diamond Park along the Harare-Mutare Highway.