Land grab: Grace, Chombo face arrest
By Daniel Nemukuyu
At least 132 people, including political heavyweights, face arrest for allegedly selling State land, corruptly allocating themselves stands, fraud, abuse of cooperative funds and criminal abuse of office.
This follows an audit report into Harare land sales by the commission of Inquiry led by Justice Tendai Uchena that traced land transfers in urban areas since 2005.
Others stand accused of selling cooperative stands without authority from the Registrar of Cooperatives, malicious damage to property, as well as subdividing land reserved for recreational activities and schools.
Prominent names recommended for investigation in the Harare land audit report include former First Lady Grace Mugabe, former Cabinet Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, ex-Local Government permanent secretary Engineer George Mlilo, ex-Cabinet minister Ms Nyasha Chikwinya, businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa, former Harare South legislator Mr Shadreck Mashayamombe and Mr Nhamo Tutisani.
The majority of other people on the list are leaders of housing cooperatives set up by political heavyweights.
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo yesterday confirmed receipt of a copy of the audit report, saying investigations would start soon.
“Yes, we were given a copy of the land audit report by the Commission and our general manager (investigations) is liaising with the police so that we know who is doing what to avoid stepping on each other’s toes when investigating.
“We hope investigations will start on Monday after we have agreed on the cases that ZACC and the police will be investigating,” she said.
Mrs Mugabe is accused of grabbing stands at Carrick Creach Farm in Harare and transferring ownership into names of her relatives without payment.
Some stands at the farm were allegedly allocated to people who were later pushed out by Mrs Mugabe, according to the report.
Dr Chombo, according to the report, should also be investigated for allocating himself vast tracts of land on the same farm allegedly registering several stands under three companies without paying.
Dr Chombo is also under spotlight for allegedly corruptly facilitating Mrs Mugabe’s land grab.
The report states that Dr Chombo “unlawfully took several stands and registered them in the names of his three companies without paying for them, well aware that the farm had not been handed over to the Ministry of Local Government by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.”
The three companies were listed as Comverol Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Some of the stands had been allocated to other beneficiaries, who were later allegedly pushed out by Dr Chombo.
The Commission of Inquiry recommended that Dr Chombo be investigated for abuse of office.
At the same farm, three Local Government officials — Mrs Rejoice Pazvakavambwa, Mrs Rhory Shawatu and Mrs Ruramai Chembwa — were also allegedly involved in illegal land dealings.
Mrs Pazvakavambwa is accused of allocating herself a stand that had already been allocated to someone else while Ms Shawatu is said to have facilitated the transfer of stands allocated to Arusome Properties (Pvt ) Ltd before specified conditions had been met.
Mrs Chembwa is accused of abusing her office by acting as a debt collector for Arusome in the name of the ministry.
The commission said all stands improperly allocated at Carrick Creagh Farm must be recovered.
“Ministry of Local Government should recover the 50 stands unlawfully transferred to Arusome. It should also recover all the stands unlawfully taken and transferred by the former Minister Dr I. Chombo and former First Lady G. Mugabe.
“The stands should be given back to the beneficiaries to whom they had been allocated before they were grabbed by the former minister and former First Lady,” wrote the commission.
Dr Chombo’s name also featured in another reported improper allocation at Philadelphia Farm where he stands accused of allocating himself five stands before registering three of them in the names of his cronies.
At Ordar Farm, Dr Chombo is accused of unlawfully handing over acquired State land to Sensene Investments (Pvt) Ltd, linked to businessman Dr Chiyangwa.
Dr Chiyangwa, according to the report, should be investigated for alleged fraud after demanding, through his company Pinnacle Properties, payment from settlers at Stoneridge Farm in Harare.
According to the report, Dr Chiyangwa, whose company owned subdivision A of Stoneridge Farm, was offered alternative land at Tantallon Farm to pave the way for desperate home-seekers.
Despite being offered alternative land, it came out that the businessman’s company continued demanding payment from the occupants, a development that was viewed as potentially fraudulent.
Dr Chombo is also implicated in Stoneridge Farm allocations after allegedly abusing his office as minister to instruct officials in his ministry to enter into a deed of settlement with Pinnacle Holdings without being authorised by Cabinet.
Mr Mashayamombe, former legislator for Harare South, features prominently in the land audit report for illegally selling State land at Saturday Retreat Estate under an entity called Solomon Mujuru Housing Trust.
He allegedly entered into an agreement of sale with the Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ).
Mr Mashayamombe allegedly sold more State land at Rest Farm without a memorandum of agreement with the Local Government Ministry.
Eng Mlilo faces abuse of office investigations after allegedly facilitating the illegal transfer of Nyarungu Estate to Jetmaster, a company associated with Dr Chiyangwa.
Eng Mlilo, according to the report, should be investigated for bribery and corruption.
Former National Assembly member for Hatcliffe Mr Tongesai Mudambo reportedly appropriated land to himself and sold State land reserved for solving double allocation problems at Hatcliffe North Farm.
Ms Chikwinya is accused of illegally selling State land without developing it under Pilgrims Rest Developers at Hatcliffe North Farm.
Mr Tutisani is accused of illegally subdividing open spaces and school sites into residential stands at Hatcliffe North Farm. He is also accused of selling State land without fully developing it.
Two police officers —Taruvinga Jindu and Watson Tundu — allegedly received stands to influence the outcome of some land investigations they were conducting at Philadelphia Farm. The Herald