Councils given planning ultimatum

 Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

ALL local authorities must, by June 30, have fully-fledged planning departments which meet the approval of the Local Government and Public Works Ministry, President Mnangagwa has said.

The Government is taking issues of planning seriously to curb the mushrooming of haphazard structures around the country, mostly in urban settlements.

In that regard, it has also directed that all councils must have master plans by June 30.

President Mnangagwa’s directive is contained in the blueprint for local authorities dubbed: “Call to action – no compromise to service delivery”, which spells out that planning issues are a must for all councils. 

In the past, most rural district councils and smaller urban councils relied on central Government planning staff, but the links had become very tenuous between planners and councils.

“All local authorities shall by June 30, 2024, have  competent planning functions to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works,” said the President in the blueprint.

Harare City Council, in partnership with the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe, yesterday organised a breakfast meeting where stakeholders, including architects and planners, exchanged notes on the city’s urban renewal plan.

Unpacking the local authorities blueprint during the meeting held in the capital, Chief director for Spatial Planning and Development in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Shingirayi Mushamba, said there is no compromise to urban renewal.

“Beyond masterplans, the President has said I want you to establish departments responsible for urban planning for the planning function to be competent and perform including of course directing, managing, co-ordinating, facilitating, leading urban renewal programmes and urban land management,” he said.

Mr Mushamba said this was not just for urban local authorities, as it cuts across all the 92 local authorities in the country. 

“In the no compromise to service delivery blueprint which his Excellency shared with local authorities, essentially he has tasked local authorities to run with urban renewal programmes.

“From the budget of 2025 going forward, His Excellency expects serious articulation in those budgets to what urban renewal programmes will be undertaken by local authorities given their socio-economic conditions without which such budgets will not be approved”.

Mr Mushamba said the President had also directed local authorities to use their own resources and devolution funds to make the necessary institutional and programme arrangements for implementing urban renewal.

Speaking at the same occasion, Harare Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said the local authority would return the city to its glory days in line with the President’s blueprint.

“The President announced the call to action on November 1 2023 and immediately we went into action. What we have done as the City of Harare is to put up 15 thematic areas to look at various areas.

“We have communicated to our ministry and it will be approved by council in the next week and the operation and reporting is being done on a monthly basis to the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of State for Harare Metropolitan,” he said.

Harare City town planner Samuel Nyabeze said planning of the city should not be done by council alone or its planners and engineers but everyone with the requisite expertise should contribute.

“We should harness the expertise so that we come up with a well-planned city where everyone is involved,” he said.

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