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Mashonaland Central provincial lands committee has instituted an investigation into a chief accused of allegedly taking $4 000 from 10 civil servants on the pretext that he would assist them to acquire land in the province under the land reform programme.

The chief allegedly charged the 10, $400 each in separate incidents after duping them into believing that they would get land.

This was revealed during a Mashonaland Central provincial land committee meeting held last week in Bindura to deliberate on the land audit as recently directed by Government to look at production on acquired farms, problems being faced and maximum utilisation of land.

President Mugabe recently castigated A2 farmers for underutilising land and said Government will soon undertake an audit to ensure that land is fully utilised.

Sources who attended the meeting said the matter came to light after the civil servants visited the provincial lands offices in Bindura to inquire about progress on the matter.

They were informed that their names had not been forwarded to the lands office and that the officials were not even aware that they had applied for land.

In an interview last week, the Minister of State for Mashonaland Central for Provincial Affairs Aocate Martin Dinha warned traditional leaders and politicians to desist from such practices as they will face the full wrath of the law.

“The province would like to warn traditional leaders, Government officials, unscrupulous middlemen who are now in the habit of taking money from unsuspecting people for purposes of buying pieces of land. Land is free in Zimbabwe.

“Every Zimbabwean is eligible to be given land free of charge. I am aware that such practices are happening in the province and we will take corrective measures,” he said.

A Dinha also took a swipe on corrupt officials who acted as middlemen selling land to unsuspecting land seekers.

“We want to say that as a province, we will not brook any lawlessness in terms of land redistribution. Everything (land distribution) will be done within the auspices of the district lands committees and provincial lands committees.

“Any illegal land invasion will be dealt with according to the law. We will not allow any people to invade any farm without lawful authority, without the farm having been properly allocated to them,” he said.

A Dinha said he was aware of some people who were allocating land in A1 settlements, land designated for grazing, for pastures and those that were reserved for the purpose of building structures.

We want to warn them that we will deal with them. We also have people who want to resettle themselves without lawful authority. We have headman, politicians who interfere in the allocation of land without following procedures,” A Dinha said.

He said the province would implement Government’s directives with regards to such issues.

“We are aware that during the onset of the land programme some people got more than what they have capacity to use. We are calling on them to voluntarily approach provincial district land officers to give up part of the land before the audit. We are saying if for instance you got 1 000 hectares and you capacity is 50ha, we will give you 100ha and then the balance of 900ha will be given to others.”

He said the waiting list in the province had 48 000 people with the bulk of them being youths and women.

Source : The Herald