Noose tightens on land barons
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.