Government to go after 15 land barons
NATIONAL Housing minister Daniel Garwe says the government is working on modalities to rein in at least 15 land barons believed to be in possession of 80 percent of the country’s residential space.
In a recent interview with the Daily News, Garwe said his ministry was putting final touches to a tell-it-all audit report on urban land occupation and ownership to be tabled before Cabinet.
“It is sad to note that only 15 land barons own around 80 percent of residential land space in the country. Some of the barons acquired the State land for a song and are now overcharging desperate home-seekers.
“The barons are just selling stands without putting in place necessary infrastructure like water, sewer and roads. This has created a host of problems for government and dwellers,” the minister said.
Garwe said it was a Cabinet decision to audit and act on land barons owing to the chaos that has arisen in the housing sector in recent years.
“Desperate home-seekers have lost life savings to land barons. As authorities we cannot fold our arms and watch. “We need to rein in the chaos and restore order and sanity in the national housing sector.
“Those that have duped desperate home-seekers will face the full wrath of the law. We are aware that most barons are doing what we call land banking. If they need money to buy new fancy cars, they just sell one or two stands,” he added. Of particular concern to authorities was that the ordinary person has not had any recompense for monies paid to the land barons when structures are destroyed by local authorities.
“We have reports that in the case of structures being destroyed, land barons do not compensate the home owners, there is a need to correct that. Let those who collect money or those who parcelled out the land pay back.
“As government, we are working on ways to rationalise some areas like Caledonia, Hopley, Southley Park, Cowdry Park and Ushewekunze, among others, in a bid to lessen the strife of the ordinary person who could otherwise face demolitions,” he added.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) said it would also be investigating land barons alleged to have duped home-seekers.
“From the chairperson, 2021 visioning in the fight against corruption, land barons will fall…” Zacc posted on its official Twitter feed yesterday.
Authorities’ seething anger with land barons stem from a social and health crisis that arises from the chaotic allocations of stands that have seen most illegal structures being demolished.