Land barons to lose assets
Necessary court actions will be initiated to seize assets acquired by land barons using the proceeds from their illegal sale of State and council land to desperate homeseekers across the country.
The law that allows the forfeiture of assets acquired from corrupt activity has rarely been used although a former Zimra employee has lost property that, on the balance of probability, was acquired corruptly although there was not enough evidence to convict him.
The actions to forfeit property that cannot be explained are civil actions, not criminal actions, and so require a lower standard of proof.
Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Tafadzwa Muguti said yesterday that many people that have ill-gotten wealth will be affected as Government is also currently conducting lifestyle audits for employees in all the local authorities across the country to identify those that amassed questionable wealth whose provenance they cannot explain.
Speaking at a meeting with Chitungwiza Municipality management Mr Muguti said he met Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, and senior police officers over the matter.
“There are people amassing enormous wealth at the expense of the poor. I am happy to say that with effect from today, we are going to start asset forfeiture from people like land barons. This morning, I met Minister Moyo, commissioners of police and their spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, and we have put a taskforce in place.
“These things (forfeiture) have always been provided for under the law. It is not like we are crafting a new law. This week you shall see ZRP going after assets of those who acquired wealth illegally by selling land which was not theirs. So to those who have got houses and cars we will take what belongs to the State. That means if the money was supposed to have benefited Chitungwiza Municipality, it should be directed there,” he said.
By 2022, Mr Muguti said, there should not be any land baron in the country.
“We are not looking at the political party you support. As you committed these crimes, we are coming after you. We are doing this for the sake of progress of this great nation,” he added.
The Provincial Development Co-ordinator said it was a big disappointment that State land had been parcelled out over the years without the signature of the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.
“We have people that have taken the power of local authorities, some of them conniving with staff members to issue offer letters. Offer letters are not title deeds,” he said.
No individual, said Mr Muguti, should block development when the State wants to develop its own land as was the case with Chitungwiza Municipality which was blocked from constructing its civic centre by a land baron.