Land scam inquiry leaves no stone unturned

The Chitungwiza Town Council is investigating its senior staff to flush out any remaining corrupt officials involved in a land scandal involving thousands of home-seekers allocated stands illegally.

The council has approached the government for help after it emerged that there were still some officials who had not been charged and prosecuted for corruption in the recent housing scandal.

The probe followed last week’s government directive to Chitungwiza to destroy 10,000 illegally built homes. Most of the people who are set to lose their homes have official documents issued by the previous council.

“Most of these stands were bought for between $4,000 and $5,000 and it is unfortunate that the people who bought these stands could lose their hard-earned cash as a result of the illegal deals,” said the town clerk, George

Makunde. “That is why we are saying that the law should take its course on this matter.”

Philip Mutoti, the new mayor, said most of the houses were built on land originally designated for other purposes, such as recreation. Some were in wetlands, while others were on top of sewer and water pipes.

“We will be looking at that to see how exactly these stands were acquired and who was behind their sale,” said Makunde. “We want to get to the bottom of the issue.”

Some senior officers, including a former town clerk, are already in jail for the scam.

When the issue first surfaced three years ago, the MDC-T fired the councillors from its ranks. Ignatious Chombo, the minister responsible for local government, refused to endorse the move, only to act after his own inquiry reached the same conclusion. This led to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, the town clerk and several officers.

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