THE Midlands land scam, which has seen former Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya and Provincial Administrator Cecilia Chitiyo appear in court for allegedly engaging in illicit land deals, has also sucked in several top government officials who stand accused of parcelling out close to 5 000 residential stands to land barons.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Acting principal director for physical planning and State land management, Honesty Magaya and deputy director for State land management section, Rhory Shawatu and six other senior government officials have been added to the list of top government officials alleged to be involved in the scam.
Just recently, Magaya and Shawatu jointly appeared at the Gweru Magistrates’ Court facing charges of criminal abuse of office and were remanded out of custody pending trial alongside other government officials who were arrested early this year.
Meanwhile, valuation and estate management director Sifelani Moyo (59) and administration officer Everest Nyamadzawo (33), who had also been implicated in the stands scam, had their charges withdrawn on September 26, 2018, for lack of incriminating evidence.
Moyo and Nyamadzawo have now been roped in as State witnesses, according to the submissions presented by the prosecution.
According to court papers, between 2005 and 2015, Magaya unlawfully approved a layout plan for Mabhula State land in Zvishavane which had been designed by provincial physical planner Chisayinyerwa Chibururu for purposes of urban development.
It is the State’s contention that at the time, no change of use of State land from rural to urban use purpose had been effected.
Shawatu is alleged to have, on different occasions, instructed his junior officers to write valuation request letters to the surveyor-general to arrange for the survey of the State land at Hertfordshire Phase 2, Gweru and Makusha in Shurugwi, among other places.
Early this year, when Chitiyo (50) appeared in court, she was jointly charged with former Gweru district administrator Shepard Marweyi (48), provincial projects officer Matilda Manhambo (59), principal director for physical planning and State land management section Ethel Mlalazi (65) and Chibururu (47).
They were facing 14 counts of criminal abuse of office.
It was the State’s case that Chitiyo unlawfully co-signed offer letters to distribute 4 469 stands which were on State land. One of the alleged signatories to the transaction was Machaya.