Noose tight­ens on land barons

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - De­bra Matabvu

A multi-agency probe into in­di­vid­u­als and hous­ing co­op­er­a­tives that fell foul of the law has be­gun.

This fol­lows an ex­ten­sive in­quiry into the il­le­gal sale of State land around the coun­try, .

Crack teams from the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ZACC), Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) and the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice (ZRP) are spear­head­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions of land barons un­earthed by a com­mis­sion of in­quiry that was set up by Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa in 2018.

The Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, led by Jus­tice Tendai Uchena, rec­om­mended crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, pros­e­cu­tion of land barons and reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of some il­le­gal set­tle­ments. The in­quiry cov­ered the sale of State land in and around ur­ban ar­eas since 2005. Sev­eral cases that have been in­ves­ti­gated by the crack teams have been re­ferred to the Spe­cial

Anti-Cor­rup­tion Unit (SACU) in the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent and Cabi­net for im­me­di­ate pros­e­cu­tion in spe­cialised anti-cor­rup­tion courts.

The Sunday Mail has es­tab­lished that the Pres­i­dent has set up an Im­ple­men­ta­tion Com­mit­tee made up of ex­perts to as­sist lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions.

Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Mrs Vir­ginia Mab­hiza said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were pro­gress­ing smoothly.

“In­sti­tu­tions such as the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ZACC), Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) and the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice (ZRP) have set up teams to im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry through spear­head­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions with the view to pros­e­cute land barons and other cor­rupt prac­tices un­earthed by the Uchena Com­mis­sion,” she said. “The ZACC, NPA and the ZRP have col­lab­o­rated well in in­ves­ti­gat­ing and prose­cut­ing some land barons.

“Some of the cases which border on cor­rup­tion in land ad­min­is­tra­tion have been re­ferred to the Spe­cialised Anti-Cor­rup­tion Unit (SACU) to be dealt with swiftly in anti-cor­rup­tion courts which were set up by the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.”

SACU’s head Mr Ta­bani Mpofu

said some of the cases are now be­fore the courts.

“We have cases that have been re­ferred to us and we are work­ing on them. I do not have the ex­act num­ber of cases off-hand; how­ever, I can con­firm some of the cases in­clude a por­tion of State land in Mu­fakose and Chi­tung­wiza. Some of the cases are now in courts.”

Mrs Mab­hiza said the Im­ple­men­ta­tion Com­mit­tee would be tasked with as­sist­ing lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to re­store ur­ban hous­ing to world-class sta­tus with req­ui­site ameni­ties.

The com­mit­tee’s work will in­clude fa­cil­i­tat­ing the pro­mul­ga­tion of le­gal in­stru­ments on mod­ern ur­ban de­vel­op­ment mod­els and co­or­di­nat­ing re­me­dial ac­tion for home-seek­ers who were duped by the land barons.

Harare, through the Min­is­ter of State for Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs (Oliver Chi­dawu) and the Pro­vin­cial De­vel­op­ment Co­or­di­na­tor’s Of­fice, is un­der­stood to be un­der­tak­ing a pro­gramme to im­ple­ment some of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“Let me, how­ever, em­pha­sise that the Im­ple­men­ta­tion Com­mit­tee will com­mence its work soon, bring­ing to­gether all the rel­e­vant in­sti­tu­tions in a sys­tem­atic man­ner to cover all the ten prov­inces of the coun­try,” she said.

The Uchena Com­mis­sion re­vealed that land barons, hous­ing co­op­er­a­tive lead­ers, prop­erty de­vel­op­ers and po­lit­i­cally con­nected peo­ple il­le­gally sold US$3 bil­lion worth of ur­ban State land since 2005 and pock­eted most of the cash.

It also rec­om­mended the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pos­si­ble pros­e­cu­tion of 431 cases of sus­pected cor­rup­tion, in­clud­ing life­style au­dits and in­ves­ti­ga­tion of pos­si­ble abuse of of­fice charges for past and present Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers con­nected with man­ag­ing State land.

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