Govt officials summoned over illegal land sales

The Land Commission has summoned government and local authorities’ officials to a public hearing, to give evidence on the illegal acquisition and allocation of State land reserved for urban development.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

The public hearings by the six-member Justice Tendai Uchena-led commission began yesterday at a Bulawayo hotel and will end on November 23.

The commission is investigating the illegal sale of State land in and around the urban areas of Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South.

“Accordingly, the commission summons government officials and local authority staff to give evidence on various matters pertaining to acquisition, allocation, planning and development of urban State land, handed by the ministry for Lands to the ministry responsible for local government for urban development,” Uchena told journalists at a Press briefing on Thursday.

Justice Uchena said in Bulawayo the commission is interested in the illegal sale of State land at Rangemore, Umvutsha B, Woodvale farm, Relgate, Good Hope and Mopani Farm near the airport and “any other such urban State land that may be known to the public”.

In Bulawayo, pressure groups and residents’ associations have raised a red flag over the acquisition and sale of land by the local authority to some private land developers with links to city fathers.

City fathers face charges of illegal land deals.

Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere at one time suspended five Bulawayo councillors over illegal land deals. This followed the release of a report of a government probe team deployed to Bulawayo to investigate corruption and illegal land deals among city fathers.

“The commission also subpoenas urban State land actors in land acquisition, allocation, planning and development, such as those alleged to have illegally sold or purchased stands. The commission also subpoenas beneficiaries who have issues with regards to allocation and development,” Justice Uchena said.

The land commission reports to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.