COMMISSION: Gweru land developer must be investigated

By ZBC Reporter

HARARE: A Commission appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for investigations into alleged corrupt practices by a land developer, police officers and government officials at Hertfordshire farm housing development in Gweru.

Earlier this month, the Commission of Inquiry into the sale of state Land around urban areas presented its report to President Mnangagwa showing that the country has lost $3 billion to land barons since 2005.

Among a number of such cases in the Midlands province, the Commission accused housing developer River Valley Properties represented by directors Smelly Dube, Richard Chiwara and Mncedisi Dube of engaging in corrupt practices at the Hertfordshire development.

“Mahlaba Housing Programme (River Valley Properties Pvt Ltd) colluded with engineers from City of Gweru who prepared and ‘approved’ engineering drawings and thereafter, and in some cases, ‘supervised’ or carried out the actual work,” reads the Commission’s report.

The Commission said River Valley directors should be investigated for selling State land without an agreement with the government as well as unlawfully subdividing state land. The company was reportedly allocated 1,600 housing stands at the 820-hectare farm.

“The Ministry of Local Government (MLG) should cause an investigation on how money paid and continues to be paid to Mahlaba Housing Programme (River Valley Properties) has been expended given that there is insignificant development on the ground,” the Commission recommended.

Two officials with the ministry of local government should also be investigated for reportedly collecting US$5,000 from each developer as well as monthly instalments.

According to the Commission, three police officers should also face criminal abuse of officer for allegedly receiving EcoCash payments from a company they were investigating.

Meanwhile, the commission found that, across the province, the management of State land was irregularly and unlawfully controlled at provincial level rather than by relevant government organs at national level.

The then minister of state for provincial affairs Jason Machaya and the provincial administrator co-signed allocation letters to a small group of developers who would be allocated land in virtually all districts of the Midlands province.