Villagers rap ‘rampant’ corruption in land allocation

Source: Villagers rap ‘rampant’ corruption in land allocation | The Herald August 4, 2016

From Lloyd Gumbo in MUTARE

Beneficiaries of the fast track land redistribution exercise and traditional leaders in Mashonaland East province say corruption and underhand dealings are rampant in land allocations, resulting in ordinary villagers losing their land to rich people from cities such as Harare. They made the remarks during the public hearing on the Land Commission Bill by a joint committee of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security and the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Irrigation Development at Hwedza Centre yesterday.The public hearings are sponsored by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Chief Nyahuye Wasvosve welcomed the Bill, but said there was need to address corruption at leadership level for the commission to successfully exercise its mandate.

“We know President Mugabe is sincere when he gives a nod to this Bill, but the biggest problem is people around him who abuse their positions by being corrupt,” he said.

“The commission must expose corrupt people in the police and those around President Mugabe because the President is now being castigated because of those people. In order for the commission to execute its mandate fully, corruption must be nipped in the bud.”

War veteran and farmer, Cde Fanuel Chigwedere, said the commission must ensure that there is improved production at the farms as he implored Government to upgrade irrigation facilities at the farms.

Said Cde Chigwedere: “There are farms that are still under control of white people in this province. We want Government to repossess those farms and give them to indigenous Zimbabweans who don’t have land.

“The biggest problem is that there is too much corruption at senior level. At the lower level, it’s not as rampant as at senior level. We wonder how you will plug the vice at the lower level when at the senior level you are not clean.”

Farmer, Mr Joseph Mukungurutse, said corruption could not be reduced if culprits were left scot-free.

“We want those who are corrupt to be arrested. Corruption is rampant here in Hwedza in the allocation of land. So, we want the Land Commission to look into corruption cases,” he said.

Another villager, Mr William Mutambudzi, said he would not support the Bill as long as it did not clearly spell out how corruption in the allocation of land would be dealt with.

Cde Rodwell Zinyemba of the Zimbabwe Ex-political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Association said there were land barons at the farms who were selling land.

“But our concern is (that) we only hear of land barons being arrested in urban centres, yet here they are left scot-free,” he said.

Another beneficiary of the land redistribution exercise, Mrs Mapfumo said they wanted the Bill to protect the interests of women.

“As women, we want security on our farms, because some widows lose their farms as those in authority repossess those farms just because one’s husband has died.

“Our fear now is that maybe this Bill is going to be used by those in authority to reclaim our farms as women because we have no one to protect us,” said Mrs Mapfumo.

The majority of youths who spoke said they did not support the Bill because it did not clearly spell out how the youths, who did not benefit from the fast track land redistribution exercise would be catered for.

Zanu-PF senator for Mashonaland Central, Cde Damian Mumvuri chairs the team in Mashonaland while Muzarabani South MP Cde Christopher Chitindi chairs the one in Matabeleland.

The committee will be conducting another public hearing in Mutare today and wind up its activities in Masvingo tomorrow.