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‘Land barons hiding behind ED’s name’

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BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

A HARARE resident, Samuel Mutete, has written to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) calling for investigations into land barons who have gone on a prowl in Harare, parcelling out land claiming to be acting on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In the letter, also copied to Local Government minister July Moyo, the Special Anti-Corruption Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority and Zanu PF, Mutete said he was affected by the touting of Mnangagwa’s in “clear criminal” cases.

He said most of the illegal activities were happening in Caledonia.

“There are issues of land in Caledonia previously dealt with by responsible authorities after barons went on rampage defrauding citizens using different cooperatives during the first republic under the umbrella of Zanu PF party. Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere ushered in UDCORP and brought relief (to people) as order was restored, although no serious arrests were made where land was not sold unprocedurally. All land was gazetted and regularised as co-operatives were banished in 2015 to make way for UDCORP,” he said.

“A number of co-operatives have since resurfaced and repossessed the gazetted land. The main culprits are Tongoville Housing Co-operative led by Eliah Hamandishe, Musvina bothers, Livingston Chikanga and others who are selling the land without lawful mandate to do so. They are backdating transactions to the late President Robert Mugabe era. Some stamps and offer letters reflect dates in 2010, thereby, creating a parallel land allocation to the regulasation by Local Government ministry and UDCORP. Go to different co-operatives offices at Gazebo displaying party flags and fish out forged documents by co-operatives used to defraud innocent citizens.

“Of my concern are claims by Hamandishe that he is linked to President Mnangagwa and (claims that) he engineered his rise to the ‘throne’ through sponsoring him. I am deeply affected by the mentioning of the President in clear criminal cases here and surrounding areas. Does the new dispensation by President Mnangagwa allow such clear corruption by these land barons? Can the Zanu PF disown these criminal activities? It will be great if swift action is taken and the culprits be accounted for. I think by writing this it can be attended to immediately.”

According to Mutete, Hamandishe, who he accused of bragging that he was “untouchable”, got arrested last year for fraud and was released without charge.

“I spoke to Hamandishe last year and he openly bragged that he was untouchable as he offered me a 300sq stand for US$3 000. He was arrested later for a fraud case which had evidence but was released shortly after. The case CRBs ACC179-80/20 is still pending at Harare Magistrates Court. I made a follow up and it is almost dead. All exhibits and court papers are reportedly missing, including police dockets,” he said.

“I saw several victims trying to report their cases at a Gazebo Police Base, but were openly sent away and threatened in front of police officers by another famous land baron Ronald Musvina. Similar incidents happen daily and it is now normal. Victims of fraud will always be referred to civil courts by police, but a few cases will sail through as the land barons know every trick to delay cases.

“Criminals are evicting bona fide land owners while brandishing fake offer letters by Chombo through which they claim the whole land of Caledonia and surrounding areas without any proof of purchasing it or title deeds. I wonder how these land barons got State land and who is empowering them? My question to responsible ministers is why are barons allowed to operate these illegal co-operative offices at Gazebo? Why don’t you address the matter urgently as citizens are being defrauded in broad daylight? Where are police officers to monitor their operations and who will compensate the victims?” he said.

Mutete also appealed to Moyo to release the database for land ownership in Caledonia to avoid further criminal activities and conflicts since court processes could take long and are expensive for some citizens.

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