By Mugove Tafirenyika
Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere came out guns blazing yesterday, slating the State media for “pursuing factional agendas” and misinforming the country on land allocations in Harare.
In an interview with the Daily News, Kasukuwere:
– Denied allocating land promised to Zanu PF youths to Walter Magaya
– Denied allocating land to his brother, Tongai
– Accused State media of writing “complete rubbish”.
Kasukuwere, seen as a key player in the G40 faction in Zanu PF that is intent on blocking Lacoste faction kingpin Emmerson Mnangagwa’s path to the presidency, appeared to suggest that State titles The Herald and The Sunday Mail had been captured by the rival faction to besmirch him.
Sources told the Daily News yesterday that the State media directly takes instructions from a Lacoste-linked minister and a permanent secretary who are engineering the attacks on their rivals.
Kasukuwere stormed: “What you have read in the State media is pure malice, malicious lies. We are denied space in The Herald; they lie about me. What type of a paper is that, whose news is just hatchet job after hatchet job? Which land belonging to youths has been sold?”
The Sunday Mail was the first to claim, two weeks ago, that Kasukuwere had “reversed all allocations on the 2 848.77-hectare Chishawasha B farm along Arcturus Road, including 300ha for youths, and instead allocated it to Planet Africa, a firm owned by . . . Walter Magaya.”
The report saw President Robert Mugabe, days later, publicly confronting Kasukuwere just before a meeting of the Zanu PF politburo, and challenging him on reports that he “sold land meant for the youths to Magaya”.
Mugabe personally launched the housing land development scheme for the youths at Chishawasha.
Kasukuwere said upon returning from China in late July, he found a letter recommending the allocation of land to over a dozen organisations and individuals at Chishawasha, and he had instructed officials to halt the process.
The Daily News has a copy of the letter dated July 26, 2016, signed by Local Government secretary George Mlilo and deputy minister Christopher Chingosho, which has the subject: “To seek the Honourable minister’s authority to allocate land for housing development to Chishawasha B measuring 2 848.77 hectares, Goromonzi district.”
The letter then listed all the allocations made at the farm so far to 14 entities, and Kasukuwere — instead of granting the requested approval — wrote on the first and second pages “No” before writing “Reverse” on the last page.
Only yesterday, The Herald claimed that Kasukuwere had “given some of the stands in question to his younger brother Tongai and close associates” — although documents in the hands of the Daily News show that in July, he refused to rubber-stamp the allocations made by officials in the ministry.
“Zimbabweans should suspend their judgment for a moment and interrogate that simple issue. If you look at the letter, I signed it in July — rejecting the proposed allocations. You see, it’s their (State media) lies which are running way, way behind reality,” Kasukuwere fumed.
“They were thinking they could corner Kasukuwere on something, but it’s all a pack of lies. For the record, my brother Tongai has nothing to do with Casewood Investments Pvt Ltd. It’s rubbish. But let’s just say he owns it, shouldn’t I be celebrated for cancelling an arrangement that clearly would have been improper? Remember, I cancelled all the allocations that they were attempting to push through, my officials. How could I now be the one who is guilty?”
The Zanu PF political commissar, a close ally of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, said land that had been allocated at Chishawasha went to government institutions Homelink, UdCorp and the Zanu PF Harare youth league. Those offers had not been rescinded, he said.
He explained: “People were just acquiring land in Harare without paying for it. Now we are saying everyone who acquires land from the ministry must have capacity to build houses for our people, in the national interest. We’ve supported Homelink, we’re supporting UdCorp which is our entity. Other private companies, which is where Magaya and his PHD Ministries come in, can go and talk to UdCorp.
“The land for our youths is intact, land for women intact. Land allocated to youths across the country will not be touched, and we are leaning hard on UdCorp to ensure that this land is serviced.”
Kasukuwere insisted that all beneficiaries of land would pay value, and they were doing so directly to the government.
“It doesn’t come to me. There’s already a valuation carried out for land by the government, the price is set by the government and the money doesn’t come to me. It’s a very well organised programme of ensuring land is handled in a manner that satisfies the objections of our country as espoused in ZimAsset.”
He insisted that the urban land reform was not only geared for Zanu PF youths but any investors, organised groups and organisations that could demonstrate a capacity to build houses to help meet the government’s targets.
“We said the youth of Zimbabwe, not just Zanu PF youths. In this case, the Zanu PF youths came directly to us and we have considered their request. They appealed to His Excellency and we responded.
“We won’t shy away from developing this country because of corrupt types. We have a robust programme of working with youths to build houses and training them. When an economy is where we are, we’ve to embark on major infrastructural programmes, this is what we are doing.
“Some people became offended when they saw this programme’s potential. You see, if you’re a do-nothing-minister it’s okay, if you do your work (they say) why did you work? I’m not going to sit back.
“This is about delivering; this programme has worried so many corrupt people and their successionist cousins in the media who want you to forget that we’re coming from a period of rampant malfeasance where our people lost so much money to cooperatives, where there was no transfer of land.
“People should be in no doubt. If there’re allocations being done and I’m unhappy, I’ll do what I did here. We won’t entertain any corrupt activities; there will be a full cost recovery. All money for land sold has to be recovered.
“The ministry will pursue people holding land who have not paid, and that land will be reclaimed.”
The ministry has gazetted 200ha in Norton for youths, 300ha in Chishawasha, 500ha in Nyatsime and 300ha in Umvutshwa in Bulawayo. Kasukuwere says their target in Harare is to secure 1 500ha. Daily News