Friday, October 28, 2016

Zimbabwe Herald Editorial: Land Barons Must Be Brought to Book
October 28, 2016
Opinion & Analysis

A potentially disastrous situation was averted when Government yesterday availed housing stands to over 3 000 residents in Harare South after their houses were razed to the ground on Wednesday by Bak Storage Company that was armed with a High Court order.

Surely, thousands of people who were left homeless could have been affected by rain and eventually many communicable diseases associated with wet weather such as diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery. Kudos to the Government working together with various stakeholders for intervening and saving the situation and what is needed now is assistance from local and external donors to help the affected families have at least a roof over their heads.

It is our hope that the land on which the new homes at Skyline area along the Harare-Masvingo Road is owned by the State and no one in the future, will come claiming ownership of the same land.

Harare South legislator Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe, representatives from the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry and the Urban Development Corporation (UDICORP), should leave no stone unturned to ensure that all the affected people receive assistance.

However, after everything has been said and done, we have no kind words for heartless Zimbabweans, among them politicians and land barons who move around conning innocent people by selling them stands on land belonging to companies and private individuals.

People are losing their life savings buying stands and building houses that are later flattened after the owners of the land surfaces claiming their property. Surely, where is the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, the police and local authorities?

Land barons put adverts in newspapers selling stands under the nose of local authorities and in some cases we have seen councils connecting water and in these areas, while ZESA also installs electricity pylons.

Surely, why can’t someone in these higher offices assign officers to investigate the authenticity of all sprouting suburbs before resources are spent putting infrastructure on areas that will eventually be destroyed? We believe it is also the duty of local MPs and councillors to help protect the interest of their supporters against the marauding land barons.

This idea of Government intervening every time and saving people milked of their hard earned money by land barons should stop and people who steal from innocent Zimbabweans must be punished and made to compensate them.

The affected should know that they have the legal right to pursue class action and demand compensation from fraudsters. Buyers of these stands from land barons have their fair share of blame as well. Properties such as houses, stands, vehicles among others are bought after serious scanning of the environment, instead of blindly getting into transactions.

The deeds office is a public institution that keeps all records of who owns what in Zimbabwe and it is the duty of the buyer of the property to go and authenticate ownership of the said property or land.

In cases of housing cooperatives, leaders should do that on behalf of their members to avoid loses. There is serious suspicion that the cooperative leaders might be working in cahoots with the land barons to fleece their members and demand that they should also be investigated.

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