LOCAL authorities are losing millions of dollars to land barons who claim to own land while defrauding home seekers, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said.
Minister Kasukuwere said the issue of land barons was a serious cancer that the ministry was dealing with.
He was responding to questions in Parliament on Thursday after giving a ministerial statement on the suspension of Chitungwiza Municipality councillors over corruption allegations.
“This is a serious cancer in our society. If you calculate say 13 000 stands being sold at $4 000 or $5 000 each, what would they give you? This is about $54 million and this is the amount of money that our local authorities are losing to individuals who claim to own land and sell it and it is indeed a serious cause for concern.
First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe yesterday said authorities responsible for land allocation in urban areas must be held accountable for their cruelty of watching people erect houses on illegal land without stopping them, only to pitch up to demolish the completed structures.
She said it was disheartening that those in charge of land allocation chose to turn a blind eye when people build houses on the illegal land. Amai Mugabe made the remarks while handing over a house built by Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) to revolutionary musician Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira in Harare.
“There are questions we are asking and we want answers,” she said. “Someone must answer these questions out there, kuti ndiani akambopa land iyoyo, ndiani akasainira, who was the councillor during that particular time, how did it go?
“We want to get the real story, not only the chorus that people built on undesignated land. I saw this happening and you all saw it. Inga huku nembudzi dzedu topfigira wani, what about a person?”
Local authorities, together with the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry are responsible for urban land.
Amai Mugabe went on: “You see someone building his or her house from the foundation level to window and roof level until completion, then when they are about to move in, someone comes and says it’s an illegal structure.
The First Lady said due diligence was needed before demolitions, with culprits being brought to book.
Parliament has named and shamed some land barons that have been illegally parcelling out land in Chitungwiza. A recent report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government led by Irene Zindi listed the land barons as
Land barons have wreaked havoc in Chitungwiza since 2010, creating a parallel land authority, that had its own architects, town planners building inspectors and housing officers.
They allegedly allocated people land on wetlands, illegally subdivided and allocated state land. Some of the land that was illegally sold to unsuspecting house seekers was on top of sewer pipes, electricity pylons, as well as at sites meant for roads, schools, clinics and recreational facilities.
As a result of the illegal allocations by the land barons, several people lost thousands of dollars after being swindled of their hard-earned cash.
Others had structures that they had built on the illegal sites destroyed by council bulldozers and were rendered homeless.
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