via Govt, MDC-T gang up against land barons – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 24, 2015 by Richard Chidza
GOVERNMENT has roped in the Auditor-General’s Office and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T party in a clean-up exercise to flush out land barons who had mushroomed in almost all local authorities where they illegally amassed vast tracts of land for resale to desperate home-seekers.
Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday confirmed the dragnet that could catch a number of high-profile politicians, including Cabinet ministers.
“We do this as government and there is no need for the opposition trying to take glory out of it. Of course, working well is not a problem, but we are worried by the level of corruption in the sector and hope they (MDC-T) will be able to assist,” Kasukuwere said.
He added: “Once it is identified as an audit, then the Auditor-General comes in. It is not a train smash. We just have to account for what we have and councils should make sure of that.”
NewsDay has gathered, however, that Kasukuwere’s move was triggered by a petition from residents of Mpopoma-Pelandaba constituency in Bulawayo to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai against alleged illegal allocations of land.
Tsvangirai then reportedly assigned his party’s secretary for local government, Eddie Cross, to investigate the matter.
Cross this week confirmed he had been mandated to look into the Bulawayo issue, but this had then escalated into a national problem.
“Our main target is Harare because in Bulawayo, council has to a greater extent retained control of land allocations. We have been conducting an audit of the land allocations in the past 10 years,” he said.
“I have gone around the country and the situation is the same everywhere. There have been corrupt allocations involving senior government officials, ministers and councillors across the political divide. So government has adopted our policy that will bring this to an end. We are working well together to stop the chaos,” he said.
Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko said her organisation also supported the initiative .
“We are concerned and remain worried about the abuse of privileges by those in authority parcelling out land to vulnerable people that they know would then be taken away in the end. Ordinary people are keen to own houses, but are fleeced by those in power through dodgy land allocations that are then reversed,” she said.
Kasukuwere said the audit intended to account for every piece of land and assets owned by government.
“We want to make sure we have a proper inventory of the assets we have. First, the houses that are owned by government and that we have an idea who is staying there,” Kasukuwere said.
“We have a lot of land that should be accounted for and whose transfer and use must be sanctioned by government or local authorities. We need to bring order to that area and have a clear database of what land has been given to who as well as its use.”