HUNDREDS of people risk losing residential properties in the newly-established medium and high-density suburbs of Kia Ora in Banket after it emerged that former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere forced council to allocate residential stands on State land.
BY NUNURAI JENA
Former Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora had reportedly refused to transfer the land to the Local Government ministry, citing shortage of agriculture land, but later transferred it after being informed that Zanu PF had already dished out stands to help secure the 2013 vote.
Kasukuwere allegedly gave the local authority verbal consent to service and allocate the stands, saying the transfer documents would be processed at a later stage.
Investigations by NewsDay have shown that stands allocations were done through the then Zanu PF councillors as a vote-buying gimmick.
Banket is considered an MDC stronghold.
The Banket Town Board is now embroiled in a land ownership wrangle with three of the beneficiaries of the land reform programme whose 400-hectare plot was illegally parcelled out to the 400 homeseekers by the Zvimba Rural District Council.
The newly-appointed Banket town board was last week given the task of protecting people who had built their homes on the land, after the land-grab was challenged.
Zvimba Rural District Council chief executive Richard Muganhiri called upon the town board to move with speed and regularise the land allocation to protect hundreds of people who had already built homes on the stands.
“The onus is on the board to come up with ways that will see that our ratepayers are protected and to make sure that we get ownership of the land from the Local Government (ministry), which seems to be reluctant to hand over the land to council, so that people who have built on the land with the understanding that we were going to get official confirmation of the land from Local Government ministry are protected from having their homes demolished,” Muganhiri said during a recent Banket town board meeting recently.
The Banket Town Board, led by ward 23 councillor Muganhiri, also includes ward 22 councillor Never Hutepasi (vice-chairperson), Zvimba district medical officer Dr Terrence Dandadzi, ward 17 councillor Tobias Mapuvire and Grain Marketing Board Banket depot manager Abigail Muziti, with Zvimba Rural District Council chairperson Tsitsi Kaja as an ex-officio board member.
Muganhiri said they only managed to get Mombeshora to transfer the land to the Local Government ministry after council had already allocated the stands.
“Initially, the land was taken haphazardly through the former Zanu PF councillors at the time, as we were heading for elections, with the understanding that paperwork will be done. It was only after I came and explained to the then minister Mombeshora that people had already built on the land – after he had initially refused to hand over the land as he argued that there was not enough agriculture land in the country – that he wrote to the Local Government ministry to the effect that he was offering the land for residential purposes,” Muganhiri told NewsDay.
“Kasukuwere then gave us the green light to allocate and service stands at the area while he said documents were being sorted, and that never happened. Now the people have been summoned by the farmers who had been allocated the land by the Lands ministry, but council has no proof of ownership of the land, so the people are vulnerable to demolitions. We have appealed to the Local Government ministry to regularise the land so our people are protected.”
Efforts to get a comment from Kasukuwere and Mombeshora were fruitless.