Source: Fury as headmen sell game park, airport – NewZimbabwe 22/05/2016
VICTORIA FALLS: Over dozen village heads under Chief Mvuthu outside the resort town face imminent suspension following allegations they have been corruptly selling state land including parts of game parks and the airport to tour operators and some individuals as corruption spreads to rural areas.
Hwange Rural District Council on Saturday called an urgent meeting which was attended by heads of different government departments as it seeks to investigate the scandal.
It emerged at the meeting that the village heads cum land barons, who have not been named at this stage, were selling 70 square metres of land for $2, 000.
Most of the land that has been occupied reportedly is reserved state land that is earmarked for different projects while part of it is in the game park.
Part of the land is along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo Highway where, according to the 1996 Master Plan, a distance of about 1 km from the main road inwards from the grid to Victoria Falls Airport should not be used for any purposes.
It is understood that the local authority got a directive from the government to correct the anomaly, a development that would see hundreds of beneficiaries losing out.
Addressing the meeting, which was attended by several people drawn from tour operators, villagers and some individuals some of whom now own land there, HRDC council chairperson Sipiwe Mafuwa said some tour operators have already built lodges on land fraudulently acquired.
A seemingly agitated Mafuwa threatened to use bulldozers to bring down all the illegal structures.
“We are only here to notify you of our intentions. After this meeting we will move around the area assessing the situation because we hear there are now lodges everywhere yet we don’t have such in our records.
“Those who acquired land you should come forward with your receipts or any documentation because we want to establish who sold that land for how much.
“We will be forced to apply the same strategies that were used during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 where numerous structures were destroyed. I am just implementing what I am supposed to and I will do it,” said Mafuwa.
She said Monde area, which borders with the resort town, had developed into a ‘very’ corrupt area because of its proximity to town.
Some of the new land owners, she said, were taking advantage of corrupt leaders in the area to evade paying high rates in Victoria Falls town and constructing houses and lodges in Monde.
“We now have land barons who are selling government land. We want to burn this cancer called corruption and we hope you all have proper documents,” added Mafuwa.
“My decision is that we want all of you who acquired land to produce receipts and documents failure to which you lose.”
Hwange District Administrator, Tapera Mugoriya, who chaired the meeting, said those found to have been involved in the suspected scam will be prosecuted.
“For now we are not making any recommendations at all. We will investigate thoroughly and we only here to notify you of what is happening,” he said.
Some of the village heads were present at the meeting and villagers called for their removal from their positions.