Illegal land buyers face prosecution

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Illegal land buyers face prosecution 
Engineer Tafadzwa Muguti

Bulawayo Bureau

The process of drafting a legal document that will lead to the prosecution of both the illegal seller and buyer of land in the country has started, with a mandatory jail sentence being proposed, Permanent Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Engineer Tafadzwa Muguti, has said.

He was speaking at a recent Zimpapers-organised Land Matters Indaba held on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) last week.

Eng Muguti said never again should the law look at those who illegally sell land, yet leave out the buyers.

The indaba was held amid growing concerns over the rise in illegal settlements mainly on prime agricultural land and peri-urban areas.

Topics that were covered by the speakers, including the guest of honour, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Professor Obert Jiri, included land distribution and economic development, traditional leadership roles, tackling land barons in urban human settlements, as well as land dispute resolution.

Eng Muguti said illegal allocation of land must and should carry a more severe sentence than stock theft.

He said going forward, people who buy corruptly allocated land will no longer be victims but criminals as well.

“On prosecution, we have now started working on a paper, which will go to the Land Commission and other Government arms like the Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure that we now have a two-tier approach to prosecution,” said Eng Muguti.

“We are tired of prosecuting land barons without the beneficiaries. It is known how land is acquired and if you choose that you want to get a stolen bicycle and it’s recovered, you also get arrested, the same approach must be to the issue of land as well.

“Land criminality should carry a heavier penalty than livestock theft. People are getting seven to 14 years for livestock theft, something, which can die naturally. What about something that God doesn’t make anymore?” he added.