Home » Governance » Cash for Land Deals Backfire – Seven Lands Officers Face Probe – Case Reported to the Police

THE Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement is investigating seven officials from various provinces for allegedly demanding payment from people seeking to be allocated land.

The matter has since been reported to the police. There have been numerous cases and complaints against lands officers illegally allocating land in return for money. This has prompted the Government to attach the National Land Inspectorate, mandated to receive and investigate reports on land-related corruption, at the ministry.

Lands officers implicated in the corruption comprise two from the Midlands’ Mvuma District, two from Makonde and Hurungwe districts in Mashonaland West, two from Umguza District in Matabeleland and one at the ministry’s head office in Harare.

Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora told The Herald over the weekend that several district administrators and headmen had also been implicated in corrupt land activities.

Some of these, he said, had since appeared at various courts facing charges of corruptly allocating land.

Dr Mombeshora said the corrupt officials mainly targeted those in the Diaspora who had little knowledge on land allocation and possession, with the deals arranged over the phone and transactions going through middlemen.

“It is important to note that some cases of corruption go unreported and unnoticed because the clients who would have paid to get land are afraid to report as they are aware that they are doing something illegal,” he said.

“Also, those who pay and eventually get the land, will not report for fear of losing the land. So, in most cases only those who would have been short-changed eventually report their cases.”

Dr Mombeshora said the ministry adopted a zero tolerance towards corruption in land allocations in line with provisions of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation blueprint.

“Clients of the ministry are free to to approach the National Land Inspectorate to report cases of officers who demand bribes,” he said. “The National Land Inspectorate is also heavily involved in land related dispute resolution.”

Dr Mombeshora said the ministry had adopted measures to attend to reports of corrupt land officers and carry out immediate investigations.

“Once a case has been reported to the authorities or appears in the media, the ministry swiftly carries internal investigations parallel to the police investigations in line with Public Service Regulations 2000,” said Dr Mombeshora.

“More often, depending on the gravity of the allegations, the accused member is immediately suspended from duty to pave way for investigations. When investigations establish that a member was involved, appropriate disciplinary measures are taken. Penalties have included demotion, transfers or even discharge from service.”

Dr Mombeshora said to also mitigate against corrupt allocation of land, his ministry introduced the Minister’s outreach programmes to educate stakeholders and clients on their rights to land and the process and procedures of land allocation.

“One such programme is the Minister’s provincial visits where he meets the provincial leadership, stakeholders and clients to discuss land issues affecting the province and share ideas on how to curb incidences of corruption in land matters,” he said.

“The other one is the TV and radio phone-in programmes where the Minister or a senior manager explains to the nation land related issues. Clients are free to phone-in and report cases of corruption.”

A number of district administrators have appeared in court over corruption in land matters, with Chegutu District Administrator Makanzwei Jecheche being sentenced to a year in prison recently after soliciting $9 000 from a land seeker from Harare.

Allegations of multiple farm ownership have also been raised and the Government is in the process of fishing out those who received more than one farm and those who were illegally allocated land.

Source : The Herald