ZIMBABWE Land Commission chairperson Justice Tendai Uchena on Thursday said politicians are to blame for unplanned urban settlements on State land.
The creation of new urban and peri-urban settlements has been blamed on aspiring and sitting Members of Parliament as they did it mostly for voter mobilisation purposes.
“There was abuse of political office in the allocation and appropriation of urban State land and the use of names of top ruling party leadership to exert undue influence on government institutions and processes,” he said.
Uchena also said co-operative leaders and some developers selling State land were pocketing the proceeds without even developing on-site and off-site infrastructure.
Uchena said in his report Wednesday that such behaviour by people in high positions had led to the creation of opportunities for land barons or criminals to sell urban State land.
The report by the commission defines land barons as politically connected, powerful, self-proclaimed State land ‘authorities’ who illegally sell State land in and around urban areas without accounting for the proceeds.
According to the commission, housing developments usually occured on unplanned areas such as wetlands, under powerlines, on top of sewer lines, sites designated for institutional or commercial use (schools and clinics), and recreational centres.
Uchena has urged the Local Government ministry to suspend new allocations of unserviced urban State land to co-operatives, trusts, land developers and individuals for housing development purposes.
Meanwhile, the commission also established with serious concern that most new residential estates on urban State land throughout the country had no services such as roads, water and sewer reticulations and other such amenities, yet these settlements were already occupied.
The commission further established that in some cases where development was taking place, it was being done without approved engineering designs for roads, water and sewer reticulations.
However, twelve suspected land barons have already been arrested as police intensify their operations targeted at weeding out illegal land sales.
The land barons arrested are from Epworth Mission Development Trust, Vanhuvatema Housing Co-operative and Pungwe Chimurenga Housing Co-operative.