via Corruption mars land re-allocation – The Zimbabwean 17.9.2015
Rampant corruption and nepotism has marred the re-allocation of land in Masvingo with senior civil servants, Zanu (PF) bigwigs and traditional leaders allegedly receiving kick-backs in the form of gifts and other goodies.
A report by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has revealed that this practise has resulted in some newly resettled areas being over-populated, threatening siltation of rivers and dams that are the main sources of water for rural farmers.
The report revealed that several rivers and the country’s largest inland dam, Lake Mutirikwi, had been heavily affected by siltation as a result of the haphazard resettlement of people on farms owned by displaced commercial farmers.
“There is need to revisit the allocation of land in Masvingo province to avoid massive land degradation as some people are farming on river banks,” reads the report. “Those who were responsible for illegal allocation of land should be brought to book and those who lost cash and other valuables paying kick-backs should be reimbursed.”
Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora confirmed that there were serious irregularities in the allocation of land in Masvingo, and said investigations were in progress. Those found to be on the wrong side of the law would be handed over to the police, irrespective of their standing in society, he added.
“We have several officers, some from my ministry, who were involved in illegal allocation of land and this has come to the attention of the ministry,” said Mombeshora. “Our officers have compiled a report which we will use to nail down corrupt officials.”
The deputy Minster of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Davies Marapira, has also confirmed the illegal practice and said he would soon hand over the culprits to the police.
“We have received reports of illegal allocation of land by senior civil servants ,traditional leaders and we are investigating the issue,” said Marapira. “I will personally shame those involved in the practice by handing them over to the police.”
Marapira, who is also Masvingo north legislator, said even senior government officials like district administrators were involved in the illegal allocation of land. The country embarked on the land redistribution exercise 15 years ago under the guise of addressing the land imbalances in the country, but the move has been fraught with irregularities – rendering it chaotic. About 4 000 productive white commercial farmers were pushed off their land.