THE Justice Tendai Uchena chaired-Land Commission on Wednesday finally made public the much awaited findings on circumstances surrounding the plundering, so to speak, of State-owned Land in and around Urban Settlements.
Uchena made it clear in his report, particularly meant for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, that he needed not look far to establish the identity of these urban land grabbers.
In the words of Uchena, “the grab-and-parcel-out” job was the work of those in government, including very powerful political elements across the spectrum.
The Land Commission report carries names of people implicated in this “daylight robbery” of State-owned land – about 400 of them – all reportedly doing it for various reasons, ranging from personal aggrandisement to some other political maneuvers.
Successive Zanu PF-led governments since 2005 appear to have turned a blind eye on issues around the parcelling out of urban State-owned land, with all incoming and outgoing Local Government ministers ensuring that they did not temper with the “goose that laid the golden egg”.
We do not seek to raise the ire of those in politics, but former Local Government ministers Ignatius Chombo and Saviour Kasukuwere should have some explaining to give, particularly as both men could very easily be associated with a from-rags-to-rich narrative.
Zim Morning Post has no beef with such rich and politically well connected individuals as Philip Chiyangwa and former Zanu PF Member of Parliament Shadreck Mashayamombe, but would be glad to know how they came to be title holders of formerly large swathes of State-owned land around Harare and other cities.
We have also observed a very worrisome trend in the Justice Uchena Land Commission report, where State land was recklessly dished out like confetti to many registered and unregistered housing co-operatives, simply because they bore names of some Chimurenga War heroes, dead or alive.
The Uchena report is explicit with detail, quantifying what needs to be done in order to regularise residential stands on State-owned land.
It is clear from the Land Commission’s report that to acquire such pieces of land, poor and desperate Zimbabweans were made to pay through the nose.
But now we fear – as the voice of the voiceless – that if the intransigence the previous regimes led by the late former President Robert Mugabe represent a yardstick for his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, then millions of Zimbabweans would suffer a debilitating backlash – one in the mold of 2005’s Operation Restore Order (Operation Murambatsvina).
In her 2005 report on the country’s Operation Restore Order, United Nations Special Envoy and director of UN-Habitat Anna Tibaijuka described the operation as one carried out “with indifference to human suffering”.
Then UN Chief, Koffie Anani, referred to the report as “profoundly distressing,” adding the evictions had done “a catastrophic injustice to as many as 700 000 of Zimbabwe’s poorest citizens through indiscriminate actions, carried out with disquieting indifference to human suffering.”
We advise government to avoid the mistakes of yesteryears and spare the poor, only punishing the more than 400 culprits who swindled them.