December 10, 2019

Government owed US$3billion

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

Government is owed US$3 billion by people who benefited from land allocations in urban areas since 2005 to date.

This was revealed by the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Urban Land which is being led by High Court Judge, Justice Tendai Uchena.

Justice Uchena said this as he presented the commission’s report to President Mnangagwa at Munhumutapa Building on Tuesday.

“Our investigations show that government is owed US$3 billion by people who benefited from land allocations in urban locations. This land was acquired by the state after the conversion of 170 farms for urban settlements,” said Justice Uchena.

 “In our investigations we noted that they were some who were using political power to acquire land. They would use names of top government officials, claiming they were sent but in most cases this was false.

“We also discovered that maladministration at Ministry of Local Government also contributed immensely to this situation.”

The six-member commission which started work in February 2018 and ended investigations on October 31, 2019 also said that their investigations made them realize the deplorable conditions some of the beneficiaries are living under.

“We discovered that most areas that people are settled in have no water and we are calling on government to quickly address this by getting people access to water from the nearest sources.

“Many a times we came across spaces were sewage was flowing next to a well which is something that is not good. Most of these areas have no roads. In some settlements we discovered that people had to park their cars far from their homes and finish the rest of the journey by foot.

“The cost for infrastructural development to cater for both water and roads as well as other factors is $US2 billion dollars,” added Justice Uchena.

Justice Uchena proposed that further allocation of land be stopped for now so that systems be put in place to bring sanity.

He also called for the investigation of all officers and people involved in the process of land allocation from 2005 till now.

Meanwhile, President Mnanagagwa thanked the commission for doing a thorough job.

 “You have done your best and now it’s our turn. Government will look into the matters raised and will be calling on you when necessary to give explanations on matters arising,” said President Mnanagagwa.

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