The Mayor of Maputo, Eneas Comiche, has promised to cancel land titles granted to people who have occupied areas of mangrove forest in the city, according to a report carried on Tuesday by the independent television station STV.
The regulations of Mozambique’s Land Law defines mangrove areas as “partially protected zones”, and the law states very clearly that “no land use rights may be acquired in the partially protected zones”.
But this legal ban has been ignored in Maputo. In some of the coastal areas, mangroves have been illegally cut down, and new buildings, some of them very substantial, have been erected on areas that were once covered by mangroves.
Comiche stressed that this did not happen on his watch, thus indirectly criticising his predecessor, David Simango, who was mayor between 2009 and 2019.
He said he was well aware of the problem and was now taking corrective measures. “We are acting, mainly here, in the Costa do Sol neighbourhood, by cancelling any land title that was issued during the period when I was not mayor”. He insisted that land titles illegally granted must be withdrawn.
He added that the Municipal Council has been in contact with the electricity and water companies, EDM and ADM, to ensure that they cut off electricity and water supplies to any building erected illegally in mangrove areas.
Comiche did not say how many land titles had been issued illegally, but confirmed that some holders of these titles have been contacted, and we are on the ground to correct matters”.
The Municipal Council, he added, is working with the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) and other authorities, to ensure that those ordered to leave the mangrove areas do so.
The decision comes two months after the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, delegated power over managing the Maputo coastal area to the Municipal Council.