Masterplans for all councils by June — President

Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando accompanied by his permanent secretary Dr John Basera (in the background) greets Wedza Rural District Council acting planner Braston Kanyandura (second from right) while other delegates look on at an induction workshop for local authorities’ town planners in Harare yesterday.

All hands are on the deck to ensure that local authorities have approved masterplans by the end of June this year as directed by President Mnangagwa, as the Second Republic moves to curb sprouting chaotic haphazard settlements.

Illegal settlements had been mushrooming across the country especially in urban areas where councils like Harare are using an outdated 1993 masterplan resulting in the parcelling out of land in areas like wetlands, servitudes and communal areas.

A masterplan is an overall land use planning document, which constitutes policies and strategies regarding how land should be used and how developments should occur, looking at future water supplies, road networks, housing provision, environmental management and transport. Details are filled in with the appropriate local plans.

The master plan contains aerial photos, illustrations, maps, reports and statistical information to support the planning vision.

Speaking at the first of its kind interaction meeting of planners in Zimbabwe drawn from all the 92 local authorities and from professionals at district, provincial and national level, Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando said the deadline for masterplans will be met as only eight out of 92 councils had approved plans.

“Without an operative masterplan we cannot have a well functional city and you cannot plan for the improvement and delivery of services. We were given a deadline of June 30 by His Excellency.

“So, we are meeting with all the 92 local planners and would like to hear what assistance they require to achieve the objectives as set out by His Excellency,” he said.

Minister Chitando said through the blueprint launched by President Mnangagwa last year it was evident that it contained a number of service delivery matters, including the need for operative masterplans and functional town planning and land management departments in all local authorities by June 30, 2030.

“It is critical to highlight that this group of professional and competent planners drawn from the central Government and all local authorities shall be the drivers of this pillar of the blueprint.

“I expect stakeholders to take this opportunity and thoroughly interrogate the prevailing spatial planning challenges being experienced in both the urban and rural areas of our country as you are going through the master preparation process,” he said. 

Minister Chitando said with the development of new technological innovations, mainly ICTs such as Geographical Information Systems, the concept of the “Smart City” could emerge as a means to achieve more efficient and sustainable                                                                        cities.

“It is my clarion call that we embrace new planning strategies and concepts such as the compact, green and smart city concepts as we modernise our settlements. These strategies embrace new technologies and smart energy sources.

“Indeed urban areas or functional settlements need to manage their development, supporting economic competitiveness, while enhancing social cohesion, environmental sustainability and an increased quality of life of their citizens,” he said.

Local Government and Public Works Permanent Secretary John Basera said the Second Republic ushered in a plethora of initiatives to turn around the architecture and modus operandi regarding service delivery in Zimbabwe.

It was an honour to meet practicing professional planners in the local government fraternity rolling out together the blueprint: “Call to action: No compromise to service delivery”.

Chief director for spatial planning and development in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Shingirayi Mushamba said President Mnangagwa made a call to action for all actors in the human settlement value chain to play varied but coordinated roles to achieve an upper middle-income society.

“Among the steps that His Excellency outlined included the responsibility of planners to actually ensure in all our 92 local authorities that the planning function is implemented, coordinated, championed successfully and actually catalyses the achievement of vision 2030.”

Victoria Falls City planner Ntombizami Ncube said town planners are the drivers of development in the areas hence it was crucial that the Government had organised such a meeting.

“There have been so many illegal developments, illegal settlements taking place and mainly because we were lacking the statutory planning tool which is the masterplan.

“So the President has made a call for all local authorities to have a masterplan within the short period of six months. We are gathered here to map the way forward as planners on how we are going to this,” she said.

City Planner Ncube said the masterplans used to take too long to be approved, taking up to two years to be approved, but under the Second Republic things had changed for the better as the process was now required to be done in less than six months.

Harare City Council chief development control officer James Mazvimba said the masterplan was important as it gives the broader perspective of development in the city including direction of development along which trajectory encompassing challenges that had to be addressed.

A masterplan was a guide that had to inform lower tiers legislation like the local plan and the subject local development plan.

“It is very important as it has to be current, speak to current issues and data so you cannot run a city without a masterplan like the case of Harare where we are using a 1994-96 masterplan which is outdated in terms of its policies and proposals.

“We need to address the current issues of vending, traffic and housing. When you look around, there are a lot of issues and challenges to do with housing. We need a guideline, a masterplan that speaks to those issues,” he said.

Manyame Rural District Council planner Cosmas Murepa said their workshop was important as it was the first of its kind where both rural and urban planners have been called to be capacitated on the preparations of masterplans.

The masterplans would guide the vision of the country in line with the President’s vision to attain an upper middle-income society by 2030.

“We are sharing knowledge and experiences and helping each other in meeting our set deadlines so that every council moves together with all other councils and no one will be left behind in line with the President’s mantra,” he said.


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