Land inquiry hearings kick off

THE Commission of Inquiry on the sale of state land in and around urban areas has started holding public hearings in Bulawayo to hear from people who have been displaced and prejudiced in the reallocation or sale of land.

The hearings which started Thursday will run up to November 23 at Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel where the commission is seeking to understand the status of land in terms of ownership, occupation and development.

Where necessary, the commission will conduct visitations and summon witnesses in order to investigate the status of what goes on in the land.

Addressing journalists, Chairperson of  the Land Commission Inquiry, Justice Tendai Uchena said his team would investigate the following in Bulawayo – Rangemore, Umvutshwa B, Woodvale, Reigate, Good Hope and Mopani farms.

“We want to inquire from the public on the following: people who bought state land handed over for urban development, double or multiple allocations, people who have been allocated stands on spaces meant for the building of schools, clinics, roads recreation sites under power lines, wet lands opens spaces. People who have been displaced or prejudiced in any way by the re-allocation, resurveying and or re-pegging of stands,” said Justice Uchena.

“People of the above category who have been threatened, harassed, victimised or forced to pay subscriptions, rentals or vacate stands against their will and without following due to process.
Where various categories of beneficiaries ended up prematurely moving onto site before the requisite infrastructure has been provided, people on settlements which have not been serviced for a long time”.

The commission is also investigating land matters in Matabeleland South, probing Judds and Doelfontein farms that are located in Gwanda.

“The commission is also interested in Huntingdon, Webster, Wartrail and Luscombe farms in Plumtree and any other such urban state land that may be known to the public,” said Justice Uchena.

In Matabeleland North, Justice Uchena said the commission has got also some interests in Ndengwenge farm in Lupane, Hwange state land and Masue state land in Victoria Falls.

During the court hearings, Justice Uchena said the commission will interrogate government and local authorities’ officials on various matters pertaining to acquisition, allocation, planning and development of urban state land handed over by the Ministry of lands to the Ministry of Local Government Infrastructure Development and Urban Development.

“The commission also subpoenas urban state land actors in land acquisition, allocation, planning and development such as those who are alleged to have illegally sold or purchased stands,” he said.

So far the commission has already conducted inquiries in Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a six member commission of inquiry into the matter of sale of state land in and around urban areas since 2005.

Other members of the commission are Andrew Mlalazi, Steven Chakaipa, Dr Tarisai Mutangi, Dr Heather Chingono and Ms Petronella Musarurwa.

The appointment was done in Section 2 (1) of the commission of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10.07) and Statutory 102 of 2017 which prescribes the terms of reference.

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