A HIGH Court judge has further exposed the corrupt allocation of land by senior government officials in Masvingo province after handing down a ruling on Wednesday dismissing an offer letter issued this year to Polite Magwizi, who is a secretary in the minister of State for Masvingo’s office.
The land was for a sugarcane plot in Hippo Valley, which had already been allocated to someone else by the Chiredzi district lands committee in 2017. Justice Joseph Mafusire dismissed Magwizi’s offer letter in a case which was filed by Tafadzwa Mhlanga at the High Court in Harare.
Mhlanga, who is a magistrate, applied for review in terms of section 4 of the Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 10:28) after Magwizi was issued with an offer letter for the piece of land which he has been maintaining since 2017.
Magwizi was the first respondent while the minister of Lands, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Anxious Masuka was the second respondent. “The offer letter issued in respect of Subdivision 98 Hippo Valley Section 7 by the minister of Agriculture in favour of Magwizi be and is hereby set aside and shall be of no force or effect.
The matter be and hereby is remitted to the minister for a proper resolution of the dispute and all the interested parties shall be granted an opportunity to make representations. Pending the resolution of the matter Mhlanga be entitled to usage rights of Subdivision 98 of Hippo Valley Section 7,” part of the ruling by Justice Mafusire reads.
Minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira was in September arrested by investigators from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged abuse of duty and corruption involving the allocation of sugarcane plots to his associates in Chiredzi.
In 2017, the district lands committee identified 40 sugarcane plots which had not taken up by the envisaged beneficiaries in 2016.
The committee then approved a schedule of 40 beneficiaries to be allocated the plots. The schedule was approved by the ministry of Lands which instructed the beneficiaries to start working on the plots pending the issuance of offer letters.
They worked on the plots but, unfortunately, offer letters were later issued to other people. In his court application, Mhlanga said the minister’s administrative decision to issue an offer letter to the first respondent for Subdivision 98 of Hippo Valley Section 7 in Chiredzi is grossly irrational, biased, unreasonable and unlawful.
He said having been provisionally allocated the same piece of land in 2017 by the district lands committee and having been recommended to the minister for issuance of offer letter, the land was unexpectedly allocated to Magwizi yet she was not on the recommendation list.
He has occupied the land and maintained the sugarcane crop since 2017, with legitimate expectations that the offer letter would indeed be issued in his favour.