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Former minister busted over land

Godknows Matarutse

POLICE have arrested former Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare minister, Petronella Kagonye, for allegedly selling vast tracts of land in Harare and Mashonaland East illegally.

This comes after the Daily News reported last month that Kagonye was under investigation on allegations of improperly acquiring six farms in Mashonaland East under her real estate firm, Glorious Properties.

Then, Kagonye described the probe as a “smear campaign” by her detractors.

Her arrest also comes as the authorities have upped the ante against suspected land barons, with last week’s arrest of former Chitungwiza deputy mayor Frederick Mabamba showcasing the escalating fight against graft involving land.

Yesterday, national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed Kagonye’s arrest — whom he said was being charged with fraud involving the illegal selling of stands to unsuspecting home seekers.

“I can confirm that Petronella Kagonye was arrested today (yesterday) by the Police’s Special Investigations Unit together with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu).

“She is being accused of fraud related to illegal selling of land in Mashonaland East and Harare,” Nyathi told the Daily News.

It was not immediately clear whether the arrest was linked to the recent probe involving Kagonye and her firm Glorious Properties.

Last month, Kagonye dismissed the allegations against her of having improperly acquired six farms in Mashonaland East as a “smear campaign” by her detractors.

“I feel there are people who have personal issues with me. There have been attempts to soil my name. I have nothing to do with those farms,” she told the Daily News then.

However, documents in the newspaper’s possession alleged that Kagonye had used her influence when she worked in the Lands ministry a decade ago to improperly acquire the vast tracts of land in question — before she joined active politics.

A one time deputy minister of Transport before she was purged out of government at the height of Zanu PF’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars in 2014, Kagonye later bounced back to be the minister of Labour for a brief period between December 2017 and July 2018.

Recently, she participated and lost in Zanu PF’s chaotic district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections in Goromonzi.

According to the documents, some of the contested farms are allegedly registered in the names of Kagonye’s family members.

“Glebe Farm in Goromonzi is registered under Stanley Kagonye, Umritsur Farm in Chabwino and Entiors Farm in ward 21 are registered under Kagonye, Woodley Farm in Melfort is under Johannes Kagonye, Alderley Farm in Arcturus is under Austin Kagonye, and Banana Grove is under Isiah Kagonye,” the documents put together by the ministry of Housing and Social Amenities say.

Apart from the six farms, it was alleged that Kagonye was also claiming ownership of the vast 598-hectare Hofmoore Estate.

In addition, it is also claimed that Glorius Properties owns a vast portfolio of residential land in Ruwa, Caledonia, Arcturus, Mara and Mandalay Park.

Further, the documents claim that the former minister is also allegedly involved in wars to control another six farms in Ruwa.

Kagonye was also alleged to be at the centre of a tussle to control a freehold property measuring 40 827 hectares that was said to have been bought by a company called Mashonaland East Tobacco Graders (METG) in June 2011.

In a formal complaint to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commissiwon (Zacc), METG director Samson Chauruka said Kagonye “systematically and knowingly abused her political influence in a bid to grab the property”.

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