Time running out for land barons

Bulawayo Bureau
THE Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of State Land in and around urban areas since 2005 this week embarks on marathon visits to provinces, as it intensifies its probe.

According to a schedule released by the Commission of Inquiry yesterday, its advance team will be in Bulawayo from August 23 to August 29, while from tomorrow until Friday it would be in Manicaland.

From August 13 to August 17, the commission would be in Masvingo, before moving to Matabeleland South province from August 20 to August 22 and in Matabeleland North on August 29 to August 30.

The Commission of Inquiry will also be in the Midlands province from September 3 to September 6.

“The commission will undertake preliminary visits to provinces with the view to interface with such beneficiaries pertaining to the following; people who bought State land handed over for urban development; double or multiple allocation, people who have been allocated stands on space meant for the building of schools, clinics, roads, recreation sites; people who have been displaced or prejudiced in any way by the re-allocation, resurveying and/or re-pegging stands; people of the above category who have been threatened, harassed, victimised, or forced to pay subscriptions or rentals or to vacate stands against their will and without due process, any other information pertaining to illegal State land transactions known to them,” said the commission.

On February 1 this year and in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, President Mnangagwa swore in the seven-member Commission of Inquiry chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena to inquire into the sale of State land in and around urban areas since 2005.

Other members of the Commission that will conduct its inquiry within 12 months are Dr Tarisai Mutangi, Dr Heather Chingono, Ms Petronella Musarurwa, Mr Stephen Chakaipa, Mr Andrew Mlalazi and Ms Vimbai Nyemba.

The appointment of the Commission of Inquiry followed the mushrooming of illegal settlements in most urban areas, most of which were established from the illegal sale of State land by land barons.

Speaking by telephone from Harare yesterday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabiza, who is secretary to the Commission of Inquiry, said since 2005 there has been a lot of land barons settling people on undesignated State land and Government was moving in to address the situation.

“The reason why we delimited to 2005 is because it is at that particular time that issues of urban State land started to crop up,” she said.

“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.

“As a result of a lot of land barons and illegal land transactions that have cropped up over a long period of time, the Government is actually desirous to chlorinate such elements.”

The mushrooming of illegal settlements has in the past led to demolitions of residential structures, prejudicing ordinary people of their hard-earned cash.

Most of the settlements do not have water and sewer reticulation and other infrastructure such as roads, electricity, schools and clinics.

After completing its inquiry, the Commission of Inquiry is expected to come up with a comprehensive report to present to President Mnangagwa.

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