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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Inadequate internal controls fuel land corruption – stakeholders

Story by Wellington Makonese

THE absence of internal corruption busting mechanisms in local authorities has been identified as the catalyst to land corruption being driven by land and space barons.

The nation has of late witnessed rampant corruption in land administration in urban and rural communities where land barons are at the centre of the chaos.

Stakeholders at a Land Corruption Symposium held in Harare this Monday say while the national legislation is in place, culprits are exploiting gaps in absence of internal control systems at institutions that include rural and urban local authorities, resulting in double allocations and irregular settlements.

“Where I’m coming from, people are building houses in parks, and you actually see that even sometimes you raise these issues with the local authority, and they profess ignorance. But when they are aware, they are not taking action. So, again you realise that it becomes a culture where people build where they want and do what they want. At the end of the day, you actually see that at the end of the day, these areas are regularised, which is another issue which we need to start to talk about. This is an important conversation when we say, the manipulation of the Town Planning Act, which speaks to the issues of regularity,” said Combined Harare Residents Association director, Mr Reuben Akili.

“…And in the urban areas we have seen the growing set ups where there is corruption around the management within the deeds registry. We have heard of counterfeit of deeds. We have heard of double allocation of stands in Harare and many other urban areas. And within the rural communities, we are seeing the sprouting up of sub-book deals. You don’t even know what it is. You don’t even know whether this is a legitimate,” noted Transparency International Zimbabwe chairperson, Ms Isheanesu Chirisa.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that it has instituted systems to nab land corruption.

“As a way of preventing corruption, we established a strategy framework, where we encouraged public entities, and also as well as the private sector, to adopt integrity strategies, which would then ensure that they have policies in place that then address some gaps that are in the legislation,” said ZACC Commissioner, Gabriel Chaibva.

“We use investigation for prosecution, and asset recovery, and prevention. So, in investigations for prosecution and asset recovery, we have, in 2022 for example, received over 1 200 cases, reports that were made to us, and from those reports, we categorised them in various areas. The majority of the cases involved fraud, and we also did have abuse of office. It was mostly from, obviously, public officials. The majority were from the ministries, different ministries, as well as local authorities. So, under abuse of office, most of them, some were in terms of procurement, where they procured corruptly and also we had situations where we did receive where there was allocation of stands, residential stands, that were done corruptly, that did not follow a proper procedure,” outlined ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane.

The commission is set to launch an Integrative Strategy Framework, which will help public entities to internalise systems of preventing corruption, in line with Section 9 of the Constitution which requires public entities to put in place measures to expose, eradicate and combat corruption.

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