NEWLY-APPOINTED Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Owen Ncube has threatened to name and shame suspected land barons and local authorities conniving to rip off desperate home-seekers through setting up dubious housing schemes.
Ncube said his office would soon probe suspicious land deals in both urban and rural councils to ensure transparency in the allocation of residential stands. He said he had a list of councils that gave land that to barons.
“We know councils with land that was given to land barons,” Ncube said recently at an interactive meeting with heads of local authorities in the province.
“We will investigate State land in your respective districts; who owns it, whose company owns it and what are the benefits to the government from the allocation of such land? Corrective measures will be undertaken and investigations would be made.”
The minister said he would do everything to ensure that cases of land allocated fraudulently would be thoroughly investigated.
He said most shady land deals were carried out in Gweru, Kwekwe, Zvishavane, Shurugwi and Gokwe South.
Ncube’s position is in contradiction with former secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, George Mlilo, who in September told a private land developers’ meeting in Gweru that the Midlands was among the few provinces in the country without land barons who fleece home-seekers of their money.
Contacted for comment, town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza said Gweru City Council had not allocated land controversially.
“The land which at one point was problematic is in Vungu Rural District Council and does not fall under our jurisdiction,” she said.
“We have people in the city who have their plots which they subdivide into residential stands and everything is done above aboard.”
Gweru mayor Charles Chikozho said: “Private developers were given land by the State, so the State was accountable for such land.”
He also said as a local authority they were keen to know the identities of the alleged land barons. NewsDay