Provincial lands committee chickens out of Parly hearing

THE Manicaland provincial lands committee yesterday chickened out of appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands to answer questions over the farm ownership wrangle between retired Swiss banker, Richard le Vieux and Remembrance Mbudzana, the son of Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Parliament wanted clarity on how Mbudzana was allocated land on a reputable and productive farm in Chipinge owned by Le Vieux.

Fresh land invasions are still happening in the country, with Lands permanent secretary Ringson Chitsiko last month availing evidence before the Lands Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which showed that there were 493 land invasion hotspots in different provinces across the country involving 59 542 illegal settlers, of which 20 325 were served with eviction notices and 1 495 have so been evicted.

Yesterday, members of the Lands Portfolio Committee availed themselves to hear oral evidence from the Manicaland provincial lands committee, but they waited for two hours for the witnesses, who did not turn up.

This is despite that Parliament is on recess and the committee had requested for a special sitting in order to get clarity on the matter.

Failure to avail oneself to give oral evidence before a Parliamentary Committee might result in a contempt of Parliament charge.

Last month, the committee invited the Manicaland Provincial Lands committee, Mbudzana and Le Vieux to appear in Parliament to give oral evidence on the same issue, but they also failed to turn up.

Wadyajena said the Manicaland lands committee had given an excuse that they did not have fuel to travel to Harare.

Mbudzana reportedly invaded Le Vieux’s productive farm, well known for exporting coffee, avocados and macadamia. Le Vieux has occupied the farm for over 30 years, bringing the much-needed foreign currency into the country.

When Chitsiko appeared last month before Parliament, MPs grilled him over whether Mbudzana had used his mother, Gwaradzimba’s position to wrest the piece of land from Le Vieux.

Chitsiko confirmed that he (Mbudzana) was, indeed, allocated the plot by the ministry after he was offered the land by the Manicaland provincial lands committee.

He said applications are done at provincial level and then signed by the Lands minister, adding that in the case of Mbudzana, he was offered the land by Manicaland Provincial land committee, which Parliament is now keen to interview.

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