The Sunday Mail
Some Zanu-PF National Assembly members are said to have illegally distributed plots to desperate land-seekers to secure votes in the July 2013 harmonised elections. It has also emerged that some Government officials parcelled out land in exchange for kickbacks. A three-week investigation by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement established that the then parliamentary candidates promised their respective constituents farming land during the election campaign.
After being assured of significant votes, they then settled the land-seekers on already-designated properties.
Most of the affected bona fide land-owners exercised restraint fearing victimisation, although others made vigorous attempts to evict the illegal settlers.
Initially, it was believed that only corrupt district land officers were behind the illegal occupations.
“However, investigations revealed that politicians were also involved.
It is believed that the legislators and land officers settled over one thousand families illegally.
Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora refused to name the National Assembly members, only emphasising that the illegal occupations will be reversed.
Dr Mombeshora will soon table the investigation findings before the Zanu-PF Politburo, which will, in turn, determine the appropriate action.
“A countrywide audit is required to determine the exact number of politicians involved in this scam. They (politicians) became land-givers, moving people to already-occupied or vacant farms.
“Cases involving such land officers and politicians have been identified in the Midlands, Masvingo as well as Mashonaland East and West.
“In some provinces, politicians at district level were dishing out land in exchange for beasts or goats. The Politburo never said politicians are now land-givers; what they were doing was illegal.”
Investigators also gathered that rogue district land officers made use of geological maps to allocate vacant farms.
Payment ranged from money to livestock, depending on land size.
Of particular interest to the authorities are officers in Beatrice, Kadoma, Seke and Wedza.
In February, Chegutu District Administrator Mr Makanzwei Jecheche was sentenced to a year in prison after he solicited US$9 000 from a Harare-based land-seeker.
“Jecheche’s case is a tip of an iceberg of the corruption that has rocked the ministry as well as cases involving illegal land occupations by cheating politicians,” said Dr Mombeshora.
“As a counter measure, we now require minutes of meetings held by district and provincial land officers, State security representatives, district administrators and land-seekers.
“There should also be a waiting list of land-seekers who would have formally applied.
After assessing all this, the ministry will write to the district officers, advising them to allocate land to individuals seeking land in line with the waiting list order.”