Some provincial land officers in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement have been accused of selling peri-urban land that was earmarked for the diaspora community.
This comes after the government has invited Zimbabweans living outside the country to apply for land. The completed forms would then be submitted to the Lands Ministry through a courier or an individual duly appointed to do so.
The Provincial Land Committees have the mandate to screen the applicants in terms of set criteria and recommend to the Minister for allocation.
However, some provincial officials have reportedly taken advantage of desperate local land seekers with deep pockets to illegally parcel out the land to them.
Business Times reported an unnamed official from the Lands Inspectorate Department, which is a security arm in the Lands ministry, as saying the latest land offering by the government to the Diaspora community has created a land rush across the country. The official said:
We are yet to open dockets but there are some reports from Marondera and Chinhoyi where some Provincial Land officers are dishing out land to the people who are based in Zimbabwe but use Mastercard and Visa cards to apply for the land.
We are still in talks with our principals to map the way forward on the course of action.
Once the investigations are concluded, the provincial land officers and district land officers are expected to appear in court soon.
Areas such as Melfort and Goromonzi in Mashonaland East are some of the areas where these illegal activities are taking place.
Reports suggest that desperate land seekers are being fleeced of over US$25m yearly with village heads and rural district councils being accused of living lavishly.
The land deals are prevalent in areas closer to Harare such as Ziko in Chitungwiza, Domboshava, Mazowe, Norton, Juru, Goromonzi and Murewa.
When contacted for comment by Business Times, Lands ministry permanent secretary John Basera said he has not heard about the issue but will “certainly take action if that happens”.