Under siege Midlands developers cry foul

Source: Under siege Midlands developers cry foul | The Standard (Local News)

BY ARNOLD FANDISO

LAND developers from Midlands Province have appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa over raids on them by anti-graft bodies and state security agents, which they claim are now driven by Zanu PF factional wars.

The land developers claim they are no longer able to do their work to service the stands as they spend time attending to numerous investigation teams visiting them over similar concerns.

Since 2017, the land developers claim they have been visited by over 10 teams of investigators and state agents assigned to conduct enquiries in connection with the process of allocating and servicing of urban residential stands in the Midlands province.

In 2017, the Joint Operations Command visited the province ahead of the police investigations in 2018.

In 2019, the Local Government ministry also invaded the province to conduct a second audit, followed by the Justice Uchena enquiry into sale of state land in the same year.

The auditors also visited the province in 2019 and the following year, the Local Government ministry was back in the Midlands.

The Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) teams have also been in the province, with the latest visit by Zacc early this month targeting government officials whose cases are already before the court.

Most of the probes target the Midlands capital, Gweru.

Former Midlands governor Jason Machaya is already in prison over abuse of office involving state land.

The developers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, said they were planning to approach Mnangagwa over the raids which they claimed were now more political than objective.

“Most of us were offered land by the late former president Robert Mugabe’s government,” said one developer.

“We were asked by the then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to support party activities.

“He openly told us that land developers benefiting from the sale of state land should support the government and the ruling party.”

Mugabe and Mnangagwa, when he was still vice-president, conducted some ground-breaking ceremonies for most of the projects now under investigation.

Last year in March, prominent businesswoman and land developer, Smelly Dube was arrested on allegations of illegal acquisition of state land.

Dube’s company, River Valley, developed Hertfordshire 1 and 2, which was officiated by Mnangagwa as well as Woodlands phase 1 and 2 which was officiated by Mugabe.

Allegations against Dube emanated from the Uchena report. She has since filed a court challenge to have the report released.

“We now want President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene. Ten visits are too much,” said another developer.

“Some of the anti-graft officials even solicit for bribes. We now think the reason for the many visits is to force us to pay bribes.

“President Mnangagwa comes from the same province and we think he should intervene and get to the bottom of what is happening.”

Local Government minister July Moyo was not picking calls when comment was sought from him yesterday.

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