The Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations of Residents Trust (ZNOART) has warned urban home-seekers to be wary and to always follow laid procedures of acquiring housing stands.

The organisation adds that it is vital to observe city bylaws and attendant procedures for building structures at all times.

In a statement, ZNOART national chairperson Shalvar Chikomba said home seekers must always follow proper channels in acquiring property as well as taking due care to prevent being conned by unscrupulous land barons and corrupt Council officials and syndicates.

The statement reads;

ZNOART advises all urban home-seekers to verify with relevant authorities (Council, Deeds Office and Surveyor General) whether the purported land has the following accompanying documents:

a) Subdivision permit (issued after layout plans have been approved); Development Permit (issued after engineering designs have been approved by Council Engineers);

b) Dispensation Certificate (issued after title survey has been approved by Surveyor General);

c) Certificate of Compliance (issued by Council);

d) Title deed of the property (which gives the legal name of the property and is verifiable at the Registrar of Deeds), among other pertinent precautions from being duped by unscrupulous land barons and corrupt Council officials and syndicates.

The warning has come at the time there has been the demolition of houses in the capital with the central and local government blaming each other for the demolitions.

Apparently, the government has since warned land barons, saying necessary court actions will be initiated to seize assets acquired by land barons using the proceeds from their illegal sale of State and council land to desperate home seekers across the country.

The law that allows the forfeiture of assets acquired from corrupt activity has rarely been used although a former Zimra employee has lost property that, on the balance of probability, was acquired corruptly although there was not enough evidence to convict him.

In October this year, six land barons were arrested in Harare under an operation which was being conducted across the country to curb illegal selling of housing stands.

The six are: Revai Desha (42), Naboth Munyengera (47), Sophia Chiswede (44), Rosemary Mhaka, Tranos Muzambi (49) and Philbert Madziya (48). Some of them have already appeared in court.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests in a statement issued.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has intensified operations into the illegal allocation of housing stands by land barons in several parts of the country in conjunction with Provincial Affairs Ministers, Provincial Development Co-ordinators and Ministry of Local Government and Public Works,” he said at the time.