Corruption in urban and peri-urban land governance has increasingly become a threat to sustainable development, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission spokesperson John Makamure has said.
The scourge, he added, has the potential to derail the fundamentals of the government’s National Development Strategy 1.
Launching the urban and peri-urban land governance joint research by ZACC and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Research Coordinating Committee, Makamure said corruption has had devastating consequences in these areas.
“The report established that there are multiple land management authorities, which, creates challenges of accountability and transparency in the land governance value chain.
“The survey targeted one thousand residents from Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare and about 800 respondents were accessed from these major cities in Zimbabwe,” Makumure said.
He said scattered legislation on land governance created confusion in coordinating the proper application of that wide legislation to ensure an effective land governance system.
Traditional leaders, he said, were taking advantage of loopholes created by the non-harmonization of the Communal Lands Act, Traditional Leaders Act and Rural District Councils Act to allocate communal land.
“It is apparent that evidence of a research study has uncovered issues that weigh heavily on citizens’ rights. It plays a picture that is disturbingly at odds with our reputation in the region, continent and the world at large,” he said.
According to the study, women and the youths were the most vulnerable as they were being exploited from land titles while being denied access to land rights.
Makamure identified some of the devastating impacts of corruption in land governance as eviction, homelessness and loss of structures through demolitions.
This, he said, had not only affected people at the margins of the society, but the whole population, including the impact on the fiscal budget and in loss potential as a nation.
There was need, Makamure added, for harmonizing activities of various land management institutions while appointing a single land management authority.
He also called for harmonizing the scattered land management legislation.
Makamure said there was also need to ensure compliance by private land developers, cooperatives and other stakeholders with their various tax obligations and regulations governing urban and peri-urban land development.
He said it was important to implement the automation of the engineering land management and housing divisions for local authorities, through joint efforts of the government, local authorities and civil societies.
“These are just key recommendations which provide a blueprint for reform that build the case for a new way of government and anti-corruption strategies underpinned by appropriate funding.
“We are confident that we can work closely with all stakeholders in the context of the national anti-corruption strategy to progress the needed reforms,” he said.
The recommendations will also be presented to a high-level committee, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Steering Committee which comprises key government ministries like that of Finance and Economic Development, Industry and Commerce, Information and Publicity as well as civil society partners.