By Staff Writer
THE Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) report released recently has exposed a grand state capture where political actors, bigwigs, land barons and bootlickers have over-run councils and traditional leaders in a land rush to amass wealth.
The report which also named Zanu PF, the MDC, politicians,the Ignatius Chombo and Jacob Mafume alleged cases, and other council officials from the Harare City Council, said graft had prejudiced government of almost US$3 billion in unclaimed land value.
TIZ is a non-profit local chapter of the international movement against corruption while Zacc is an independent commission created to combat corruption.
The report was funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe.
In her executive summary, Zacc chairperson Loyce Matanda-Moyo expressed concern in the rising cases of urban land corruption.
She said the increased demand for urban and peri-urban land across Zimbabwe was driven by multiple factors, including high rates of urbanisation, increased rural-urban migration, urban population growth and challenges in housing provision in the post-independence era.
“With an increased demand for land, Zimbabwe has witnessed multi cases of corruption breading on weak land governance systems,” Matanda-Moyo says in the report.
“The weak land governance systems and corruption which are hall marks of the combination of gaps in the government legislation and weak standard land management procedures are multi-faceted.
“On one hand there is illegal and unprocedural acquisition, change of land use and allocation of urban land. On the other hand, as pressure on urban land increases, corresponding competition for peri-urban land has been witnessed, resulting in the annexure of peri-urban state land without following due procedures as laid down in the governing legislation,” she added.
TIZ acting executive director Tafadzwa Chikumbu said and corruption manifestations were everchanging.
This, he said,had resulted in perpetrators evading justice despite policy, legal and institutional frameworks for land governance and combating corruption.
The study comes when Zimbabwe has witnessed several cases of housing demolitions due to land corruption in urban and peri-urban areas.
The fight against corruption, he said, needed political will.
Chikumbu also concurred with Justice Matanda-Moyo that corruption was being fueled by weak legislation for land governance, abuse of political power, selective enforcement of the law and weak institutions.
“The role of land barons in fuelling corruption should not be over-emphasised as they leverage on their proximity to power to manipulate systems and avoid legal scrutiny,” he said.
“This then calls for oversight institutions to play their significant role and hold the duty bearers to account.”
Major findings of the report include the existence of multiple land management authorities creating challenges of accountability and transparency, various policy and legislative frameworks, an ominous relationship between politics and corruption and rampant unprocedural and corrupt acquisition of land.
The research discovered that the greater part of peri-urban and urban where development is taking place was not incorporated into urban land violating legislative provision, officials from the Department of Physical Planning and State Lands Office were implicated in the production of fraudulent layout plans and surveys and development of housing units on urban state land without government approval.
“They (councillors) have given themselves the mandate to allocate land negating their principal duty of policy formulation. This facilitates corruption among councillors.”
It also raised the red flag on Chombo, who allegedly owns houses and stands in 16 of Zimbabwe’s 92 councils, saying his alleged land accumulation showed massive corruption.
“Councillors in both urban and rural areas looked up to the minister and were encouraged to join the primitive accumulation bandwagon,” the report said.
It further states that there was growing concern over allocation of stands to people not registered on council waiting lists, adding that this had raised issues over the utility of the list in the allocation decisions.
The study noted an increased reluctance to register on the waiting list due to motivation by the growing opportunities to access urban land without registration but through corrupt officials.
“Of the 52,9% who are registered on the council waiting list, 20,8% have been on the list for one to five years, 40,2% for five to 10 years and 39% for over 10 years.”
According to the Justice Uchena Commission Report, it was established that the Local Government ministry had a responsibility to value all farms handed over to it and recover the monetary value from local authorities, developers and co-operatives in the form of intrinsic value.