Source: Restore public trust in land allocation | The Herald 06 FEB, 2020
Land remains an important economic and cultural asset for both rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe.
Access to and control over land is, however, mediated by varying factors, including corruption which is now being revealed in shocking proportions following the completion of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of State Land.
Not many people would have been surprised by the rot that has been unearthed by the Commission of Inquiry chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena.
What surprises most is how such malfeasance took place with impunity in the First Republic.
Even members of the former First Family and their associates are accused of corrupt land deals.
It is good that President Mnangagwa saw it fit to put in place a commission of inquiry made up of men and women of integrity to investigate how State land had been distributed.
Sadly, most of that land ended up in the hands of a few, with the majority of land hungry citizens filling in forms and waiting in perpetuity for allocation.
Land barons were amassing State land and selling it at inflated prices, shutting out potential beneficiaries.
Now that the report is out, we wait for action to be taken on those that cannot justify how they ended up with such large swathes of land and did not pay market value for it.
Those that had been cheated of land should get restitution.
We welcome, for example, the recommendation that the 15 000 legitimate stand owners in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, should have title confirmed, while illegal occupants settled by the land barons should be evicted.
We believe the authorities are still studying the report and will soon come up with appropriate action.
This report should bring to an end haphazard land sales and allocations.
A message should be sent to the land barons that land belongs to everyone and people should have equal access to it.
Those who did so illegally should not be allowed to keep it.
In other jurisdictions, such corrupt activities result in people losing their ill-gotten assets and freedoms.
Public trust needs to be restored in how land is allocated or bought.
Order has got to be restored and we applaud the commission for doing a thorough job. They took their time and even sought an extension to tie all loose ends.
They also did not sweep anything under the carpet, naming and shaming even the big fish.