Bigwigs panic as land probe continues in Masvingo

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There are allegations that significant amounts were paid for road construction and sewage infrastructure with those services never being delivered.
There are allegations that significant amounts were paid for road construction and sewage infrastructure with those services never being delivered.

Masvingo – The Commission of Inquiry into the sale of State Land is currently  conducting public hearings at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo looking into possible cases of corruption.

The six-member Commission was appointed by the then president Robert Mugabe before the events of November 2017.

The Commission was initiated after public outcry regarding the emergence of illegal settlements in urban areas through land barons, lack of  adequate roads, water and sewer systems.

The issue has become critical since urban State land acquired after 2005 now accounts for 10 000 housing units, against 16 000 for the rest of Masvingo and 75 percent of the stands having no water, roads or sewage system.

The Commission  is expected to inquire into who was selling urban State land to who, for what price and whether the money was allocated appropriately.

There are allegations that significant amounts were paid for road construction and sewage infrastructure with those services never being delivered. The public hearings which commenced on October 17 will end tomorrow amid reports that ruling party bigwigs and famous business people will be found guilty of corruption in the sale of state land.

According to a notice issued out on Friday last week, the Commission will specifically look at urban settlements at the Remainder of Clipsham, Lot 2 of Clipsham, Victoria Ranch, Glenlivet, Buffalo Range and the Remainder of Buffalo Range in Chiredzi.

The Commission which is chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena includes commissioners Tarisai Mutangi, Heather Chingono, Petronella Musarurwa, Stephen Chakaipa, Andrew Mlalazi.

In a recent meeting with government departments, Masvingo City Council and Masvingo Rural Council heads, Uchena said the Commission would look into the major issue of land barons and other matters regarding State land allocation.

“You have heard some people saying that the Commission is going after land barons, yes we have terms of reference from the President and it is true that we will also be investigating land barons,” said Justice Uchena.

The Commission’s terms of reference are:

(i) To investigate and identify all State land in and around urban areas that was acquired and allocated to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for urban development since 2005;

(ii) To investigate and ascertain the status of such land in terms of ownership, occupation and development; (c) to investigate methods of acquisition and/or allocation by current occupants and owners of such land;

(iii) To investigate and ascertain the actors involved in allocations, occupation and use of such land;

(v) To conduct visitations where necessary, summon witnesses, record proceedings, minute testimonies and document, consider and manage all information gathered in order to arrive at appropriate findings and recommendations to the President;

(vi) To investigate any other matter, which the Commission of Inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry; to report to the President in writing, the result of the inquiry.

The public hearings in Masvingo are expected to end tomorrow.

In an August interview with the Chronicle, secretary to the Commission, Virginia Mabhiza said the government felt it had to look into the issue of urban settlements as it had become an issue of national importance.

“Traditionally issues to do with housing in Zimbabwe were in the domain of municipalities but now because issues of housing became a very important part of public policy especially as it coincided with the freedoms and rights to housing and shelter,” she said.