BY MOSES MATENGA
Daggers are drawn in Zanu PF over ruling party officials that are amassing land in urban areas, which they sell to desperate home-seekers, with some disgruntled youths demanding action.
A letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa by Zanu PF youths in Mashonaland West and messages on WhatsApp groups belonging to different wings of the ruling party obtained by this publication show that tension is rising over the land grabs.
The issue of people that have amassed vast tracts of land illegally in the cities, referred to as land barons, has come to the fore in recent weeks after 190 houses were demolished in Harare’s Budiriro suburb after the owners illegally occupied council land.
Caleb Kadye, a Zanu PF member, has been identified as the leader of Events Housing Cooperative that invaded a site reserved by council and subdivided it.
Government said members of the cooperative paid US$2 000 each for the stands and indicated that the Budiriro debacle was a tip of the iceberg as the capital city had tens of such cooperatives that occupied land illegally from around 2012.
The letter to Mnangagwa from Zanu PF youths in Mashonaland West reveals that the rot could have permeated to most parts of the country.
According to the youths, some of their leaders in the province have acquired 40 hectares of state land they intend to use for their own personal gain, including creating housing stands for sale.
The letter claimed there was a plot by key youth officials in Mashonaland West, who were using fake claims to get state land in Kadoma.
“This is all based on a fraudulent claim whereby in the documents they sent to Chinhoyi provincial local government offices, he (the Zanu PF official) only printed his name and three other youths, who include two ladies who are notoriously known in Kadoma for land scams and defrauding land seekers,” says the letter naming a prominent youth league official.
“They have been to court multiple times on fraud charges, your offices can check with the Kadoma Magistrates Court about the two ladies.”
“So they hatched a plan to personalise the land once they get the offer letter, which they are about to receive soon from the Ministry of Local Government. No youth will benefit from this land,” the letter read in part.
The letter claimed the provincial youth leaders in Mashonaland West were using the Zanu PF youth league to get the land, which they will subdivide and sell to home-seekers.
“We are appealing to your high office, your excellency, to intervene and stop this corrupt document (sic) and investigate how it managed to sail through some stages,” reads the letter.
“ln 2020, does government still give vast tracts of land to individuals for stand developments?”
It also emerged that some youth league officials in Harare were using Zanu PF youth league WhatsApp platforms to advertise stands, some of them in settlements that have been flagged as illegal by the government.
Some of the stands advertised on WhatsApp are in Hatcliffe and Epworth.
A Zanu PF youth league official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the people advertising the stands were doing so on behalf of known land barons.
“I know some of them as runners of a Zanu PF politician, who sells urban land,” the official said.
“There are Zanu PF youths run estate companies with offices in Harare, who are the foot soldiers.”
Zanu PF director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi had not responded to questions about the letter to Mnangagwa at the time of going to print, but he distanced the party from land barons.
“Zanu PF, for the record, is not working with and has never worked with any land baron or baroness,” Mugwadi said.
“We are the ruling party and the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities is naturally convenient to us for such purposes such that the party has no need to work with third parties to attend to housing needs of our people.”
Marian Chombo, the Local Government deputy minister, said Mnangagwa’s administration would deal harshly with land barons.
“Huge amounts of money are lost to these people,” Chombo said.
“Indeed they try and approach various government offices in an effort to sanitise or regularise their illegal activities.
“Government does not allocate land after it has been illegally parcelled out.
“The party has not encouraged anybody to distribute stands.”
She said beneficiaries of land allocations in urban areas should always check with the department of state land in her ministry to verify the authenticity of cooperatives.
“No land will ever get a development permit without the input of the department of state land, which would verify the correct ownership before subdivision,” Chombo added.
“Land barons have no future in this new dispensation.”
*See another story on pages 8 and 9