By King Makombe

Two men claiming to be Zanu PF party members have reportedly grabbed council land earmarked for a school in the sprawling suburb of Budiriro.

Sources who spoke to this publication revealed that the land in Budiriro 5B that lies between Budiriro 1 Primary School and Cornerstone Church is now at the mercy of the land barons,Gift Masiyiwa and Lameck Nerutanga who are reportedly pegging the area for stands.

“Its been 3 months now when we started to witness the two pegging the stands for allocations and they claim to be coming from Zanu PF and are charging US$300 to desperate home-seekers.It is regrettable such lawlessness continue to manifest and we wonder if the duo really is connected to ‘high offices’ as they claim,”said a resident only identified as Gogo waMimi.

Another resident said what is baffling are claims by the other land baron ,Lameck Nerutanga,that he has links with the army and some of the proceeds are going there.

“We always view the military as incorruptible but if the claims by Lameck that some of the money from the illicit sale of the land is going to the army,it is regrettable.As a disciplined institution,I think there should be punishment for people like Lameck who put the name of the army into disrepute,”said a Budiriro resident who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.

This publication can reveal that already two beneficiaries of this illicit land deal have already started construction.One of the beneficiary told this writer that he was assured that these are legal stands.

“I haven’t been furnished with my papers yet but the guys say they are untouchable and noone will evict us and I am taking their words because at one point one of them showed me messages between him and a very top official from the council,”said the beneficiary.

Efforts to get a comment from Harare City Council spokesperson Stanley Gama were unfruitful.

According to Justice Tendai Uchena-led ‘Comission Of Inquiry on Sale Of State Land in and Around Urban Areas Since 2005’ ,there is abuse of political office in most land grabs.

“There was abuse of political office in the allocation and appropriation of urban State land and the use of names of top ruling party leadership to exert undue influence on government institutions and processes that such behaviour by people in high positions had led to the creation of opportunities for land barons or criminals to sell urban State land,”the report said.

The report by the commission further defines land barons as politically connected, powerful, self-proclaimed State land ‘authorities’ who illegally sell State land in and around urban areas without accounting for the proceeds.