ZANU PF legislator for Chitungwiza South, Christopher Chigumba, has been named in an elaborate multi-million-dollar land scam involving a former party councillor and some urban housing experts in Chitungwiza.
The scam, according to a recent report by parliament’s local government committee, left hundreds of unsuspecting Chitungwiza home-seekers swindled out of their hard-earned monies.
The report says Chigumba, working in cahoots with controversial former Chitungwiza Ward 25 councillor Fredrick Mabamba and others, hired the experts to bring some sophistication and legitimacy into the illegal operation.
“Land barons created parallel land authority which had their own architects, town planners, building inspectors and housing officers," says the report, tabled in Parliament this past week.
"They designed their own layouts, surveyed the stands, drew and approved their own building plans and undertook inspections so as to convince home-seekers that everything was above board.”
The scam, according to the report, also involves a Zimbabwe National Army officer, one T. Marufu and a former MDC-T councillor.
Other individuals featuring prominently in the report include a Mrs Manhango, Makuchete, Boniface Manyonganise and a Mr and Mrs Chivhanga.
In their report, MPs who constituted the committee said they toured the dormitory town’s Unit A Extension which had 400 stands illegally sold by Mabamba.
These stands are along a stream and were not serviced.
"There were no roads, sewer and water reticulation. Residents were using unprotected wells and Blair toilets. The committee interviewed one settler who said she had bought the stand for $4,500," the MPs heard.
The committee discovered that wetlands condemned in 2013 were being reoccupied, causing another wave of illegal land occupations in the dormitory town.
It is not the first time Chigumba and Mabamba’s names have featured in the satellite town’s land scandals.
In 2014, Zanu PF opened some investigation into circumstances surrounding the eviction of dozens of people in Chitungwiza by Chigumba.
A probe which had been sanctioned by then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo discovered that over 14 000 householders had built their structures on un-serviced land, while 8 200 houses built on illegal land were set to be demolished.
Mabamba has also been mired in several land scandals in the town.
The land baron was in 2015 arrested on charges of illegally selling State and council land to unsuspecting home seekers.
Speaking in parliament recently, firebrand Mabvuku Tafara legislator, James Maridadi urged Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri to bring Chigumba and his alleged accomplices to book over the offences.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee heard that in neighbouring Manyame Rural District Council, one Councillor Choga also sold about 12 000 residential stands illegally while about 3 000 residential stands were also illegally sold by the Nyatsime Housing Trust.
In its recommendations, the committee urged the government to urgently intervene to protect the people from land barons.
"Chitungwiza municipality and the ministry of local government should come up with a way forward to solve the problems of illegal settlement caused by land barons and action should be taken," said the committee.