The residents alleged that council secretly sold land to cooperatives and individuals who are now building their houses while their children have to walk several kilometres to school.
So angry are the residents that they are even planning to stage demonstrations soon to force council to reverse the unilateral change of land use. Budiriro Residents Association chairperson, Takaidza Mataga, said the association has been meeting a senior council official in an effort to address the problem.
“We went to see the Urban Planning Services director, Psychology Chiwanga on Tuesday and he said council only approved the conversion of stand number 4792, which was meant for a secondary school, but did not approve the conversion of stand number 4793 meant for a primary school and stand number 9040 reserved for a clinic,” said Mataga.
He said the association would be meeting council representatives again this week. “We also want an explanation from the councillor, Sydney Chirombe and the MP, Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, because people who are building on our land are from Marlborough and Waterfalls, among other places, yet our own residents are also in need of land.”
Mataga said residents were unhappy that land reserved for four creches had also been converted into residential areas for people from other areas. He said they were told that Harare was reducing land reserved for schools and clinics from 10 hectares to three. However, the whole of Budiriro has an estimated four hectares reserved for each project and council had taken most of the land, leaving only two hectares or less.
“The councillor duped residents by making them sign papers, claiming council wanted to build us schools,” Mataga said. “We are not happy at all.” Councillor Chirombe and Chiwanga could not be reached for comment.
But council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, said he was not aware of the matter. “I am in Bulawayo, I have not heard about that,” said Gwindi. “I will have to call my guys first before I can comment.”
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) coordinator, Precious Shumba, said Budiriro residents had complained that their children risked being run over by cars as they crossed roads to schools which are far away from their homes.