Zimbabwe: Illegal Land Deals - Barons in Trouble

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) Chair Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.

While there is a growing effort by police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to bring land barons to justice through arrest and prosecution, an implementation committee has been set up by Government to clean up the mess they left and continue investigating those responsible.

The committee, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, plus police, the Judiciary, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), is mandated with upgrading urban housing to world class standards.

This clean-up should complement the criminal investigations and prosecutions.

The anti-corruption activities are expected to not just bring those responsible before the courts, but also deter those tempted to repeat the crimes, while the clean-up should mean that those who have spent on savings building on improperly serviced land without clear title will eventually have proper homes, even if they have to pay some more to get the services that should have been there at the start.

Government expects the committee to ensure urban areas have planned settlements with all requisite services -- water, tarred roads, sewers and recreational facilities.

Settlements created by land barons without these services will see corrective measures and be regularised.

President Mnangagwa, using his powers in the Commission of Inquiry Act, in 2018 appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the sale of State land in and around urban areas since 2005.

The commission, chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena, finished work in October last year and handed over its recommendations to the President two months later.

Several politicians and public figures were implicated and further investigations and prosecution was recommended. The commission proposed an implementation strategy for the recommendations, which included further investigation and prosecution of certain individuals, amendment of certain laws and settling land disputes.

Addressing journalists in Harare, Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza said the implementation committee members will be deployed to all the 10 provinces.

"Members of the implementation committee shall be deployed to provinces in due course and shall be working with carefully chosen officials from the provinces and districts which include the police, officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Ministry responsible for Lands, Ministry of Housing and Social Amenities, prosecutors and the Judiciary.

She said the terms of reference of the committee shall be to:

Co-ordinate and work closely with relevant institutions to facilitate further investigation and litigation of matters recommended for prosecution by the Inquiry.

Identify, advise and facilitate laws and policy review on urban development matters in line with recommendations by the Inquiry.

Advise and avail appropriate remedies for aggrieved beneficiaries and other actors in urban state land administration.

Formulate strategies to ensure developers with outstanding debts pay the intrinsic land value to Government.

The committee will produce periodic reports for submission to Cabinet.

While Government commended law enforcement agents for investigating the criminal conduct picked up from the report, emphasis is being put on correcting the wrongs and improving the standards of housing in Zimbabwe.

To achieve this, Mrs Mabhiza said: "It is crucial that a correctional agenda meant to come up with a well-coordinated urban State land administration system aligned to the national developmental blue print, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and Vision 2030 is achieved."

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