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Nketa 8 residents face eviction

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BULAWAYO councillors have expressed concern over the eviction of some Nketa 8 residents from land on which they were conducting a gardening project to pave way for the construction of a church, according to the latest council minutes.

Staff reporter

The church, whose name was not revealed, has reportedly been leased stand number 1312 in Nketa that is reserved for gardening projects for residents under unclear circumstances.

The gardening project provided a source of living and income for residents in the face of the city’s high unemployment rate that has been further exacerbated by the scaling down of operations and closures of several companies.

According to the council’s finance and development committee report, councillors said Nketa residents must be allowed to continue their farming activities.

“Councillor Silas Chigora noted that the Nketa 8 residents had been enjoying the use of Stand 1312 Nketa for community gardening purposes and this stand was convenient in that it already had a borehole.

“It was unfortunate that the residents were now being removed from this site to make way for a church.

“This was unfair. In his view, the church should move to the new site instead where there was no community borehole,” the minutes read in part.

“Councillors Clayton Zana and Norman Hlabani concurred noting that the borehole on Stand 1312 was donated by well-wishers for use by the community. The church appeared to have hijacked the stand at the expense of the community which really should benefit from the borehole in the face of the prevailing water problems,” the minutes added.

There is an increase in the number of churches applying for stands, according to a review of council minutes in previous months.
At one point, former Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo said it would be better if these churches united “because we are receiving far too many applications for stands from them”.

The latest council minutes indicated that councillors argued that the eviction of the Nketa residents from their gardening project would be against proper zoning of the area.

“Siboniso Khumalo noted that Stand 1312 Nketa was a local authority site and had been inspected and found suitable for urban agriculture. It would not be prudent for council to now violate its own zoning and town planning regulations,” the minutes read.

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