Ministry officials accused of land scam

BY FARAI MATIASHE

Top Lands ministry officials have been accused in a land scam after allegedly withdrawing land leases given to farmers occupying State land in favour of people believed to be their relatives and close connections.

One aggrieved farmer and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) journalist, Tendai Munengwa, has since reported the officials to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) after the lease he was given by government in 2014 for Plot Number 14 Mukwene Farm in Goromonzi District, was inexplicably tampered with.
Munengwa, who is currently involved in a poultry project, is embroiled in an ownership wrangle with one Hoga Ngoroma, who has land at a nearby farm.

“Yesterday (Monday), Ngoroma came here with a number of people saying they had been given orders from the Ministry of Lands that we should let him in and share the six hectares of land we are leasing,” the poultry project manager and brother to the complainant, Blessing Munengwa said.

“We came here about eight years ago and there was nothing here, except for just these buildings you are seeing. We could not make any progress because of some dispute.”

Blessing said Ngoroma used to stay at the premises. However, the land was declared State land and was leased to Munengwa.

But now, Ngoroma, with the alleged assistance of the Lands ministry officials, was now fighting back to take the land.

“In January 2018, a dispute broke out, and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Ringson Chitsiko, ordered the authorities to give Munengwa the land,” Blessing said.

But lands officials allegedly forged letters to reverse the decision.

Tendai told NewsDay that he employs up to 30 people at the plot.

“They want to disturb my project. I have 10 000 broilers here. They will start to be supplied to buyers this week. All these employees are now at risk of
losing jobs if they disturb our project,” he said.

Tendai said he had already made improvements on the plot amounting to US$30 000, including installations of electricity and construction of flash toilets.

Hoga’s son, Tony, declined to comment on the matter, saying the land in question belonged to the State, thus it was answerable.

“Talk to the ministry. It is the State that knows how and why they allocated that land to us. At the ministry, you will get to know all the information
concerning this dispute,” he said.

Chitsiko was not reachable yesterday, but Zacc commissioner Kuziva Murapa said corruption in the allocation of land was part of their ongoing investigations.

“We are covering all aspects of the economy and the social thread of Zimbabwe. We are leaving no stone unturned with regards to the whole spectrum (including
land corruption) that we intend to address as the new commission,” he said.

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