Commission of Inquiry’s hearing period extended

Source: Commission of Inquiry’s hearing period extended | Sunday Mail

Charity Musareva

President Mnangagwa has extended the tenure of the commission of inquiry investigating the sale of State land since 2005 by nine months to give it ample time to wrap up the probe, it has been learnt.

The seven-member Justice Tendai Uchena-led team was sworn in on February 1 this year.

Although its term is supposed to expire on January 31 next year, the commission applied for an extension to complete investigations and hearings in four provinces that remain outstanding.

Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza confirmed the development to The Sunday Mail yesterday.

“An extension has been sought and granted by His Excellency, President E.D. Mnangagwa, for a further nine months for the commission to complete the four remaining provinces.

“The period of extension will be gazetted,” she said.

In a statement last week, Justice Uchena issued a strong-worded warning to property developers and members of the public who continue trading in State land.

“We have noted with concern that the public continues to purchase urban State land from cooperatives and developers who fail to follow due process in the selling, allocation, development and servicing of urban State land.

“Cooperatives, developers, local authorities, individual State land sellers and any other State land actors are warned against continued sale of State land in cases where the commission has expressed reservations,” said Justice Uchena.

The terms of reference for the commission include investigating and ascertaining the status of land in terms of ownership, occupation and development.

To date, investigations have been conducted in six provinces — Bulawayo, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Manicaland.

The extension will allow the team to comb Harare, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Midlands.

The commission conducted visitations where necessary, summoned witnesses and recorded proceedings and testimonies. The findings will be handed over to President Mnangagwa, who has since put land barons on notice.

Where prima facie cases for possible criminal conduct are dictated, the evidence is being funnelled to law enforcement agents.

Justice Uchena is being assisted by Mr Andrew Mlalazi, Mr Stephen Chakaipa, Dr Tarisai Mutangi, Dr Heather Chingono, Ms Vimbai Nyemba and Ms Petronella Musarurwa.

Mrs Mabhiza is secretary to the commission.