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Poisoning scare as land barons' war turns nasty

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2021 at 06:29hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT'S fight against land barons, accused of illegally parcelling out State land in urban areas, has turned nasty amid reports that Harare's provincial development coordinator (PDC) Tafadzwa Muguti was recently poisoned and is in a critical condition.

Sources said Muguti was reportedly poisoned after he stepped on several land barons' toes, mostly those affiliated to the ruling Zanu-PF party.

He recently admitted that he had angered many, both in Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC Alliance, over his tough stance against land barons, adding that his rivals were plotting to "deal with him".

Muguti has been under the weather over the past few weeks as a result of suspected poisoning allegedly at the hands of the land barons.

Sources alleged that some of the land barons even threatened to do anything to stop him from unmasking their illegal activities.

In a WhatsApp message to NewsDay yesterday, Muguti curtly said: "I am not available at present, will connect once available."

He, however, could not confirm whether his ill-health was due to alleged poisoning.

Muguti's life has been in danger ever since he started fighting land barons in the capital.

Sources alleged that he has been the subject of attack in the ruling party's social media groups over his tough stance.

In a series of tweets recently, Muguti seemed to confirm that the land barons wars were baying for his blood.

"The last few weeks have been very difficult for me and my family. I fell very ill at work and found myself thinking these were the last days of my life," he tweeted.

Muguti said when he returned to Zimbabwe in 2017 from South Africa to work for the ruling Zanu-PF party, he underestimated the "fires ahead".

"When I was appointed to be PDC for Harare province, it was a privilege and an honour to serve my country more. Little did I know the fires ahead," he tweeted then.

"Within three months, our team had awoken the lost noise about land barons. We held well over 30 interviews in a short space of time advocating for land barons to fall. Let me be the first to say I underestimated darkness because when they responded, they hit hard.

"I will be back healthier and stronger, for the Lord will heal me and give me more time for the cause."

Harare Metropolitan Affairs minister Oliver Chidau said he was aware of his subordinate's hospitalisation, but could not disclose the nature of the illness.

"I only know he has not been well. I don't know anything outside that. He is not feeling well, that's all I know. We are wishing him well and that he should be coming back soon. He just says he is feeling weak," Chidau said.

An official in Muguti's office confirmed that the land scam buster has been unwell for some weeks, but could not comment further.

"He is currently on leave, he is not feeling well. Concerning his health and the challenges he may have faced, I don't know who you can talk to because he is not even taking calls," the official said.

Sources alleged that Muguti was critically ill and may be flown out of the country for treatment.

They said he was a victim of the vicious land wars that have hit the country and led to the arrest of current and former Zanu-PF officials, among them former Labour minister Petronella Kagonye and her Local Government counterpart, Ignatius Chombo.

Gweru land developer Smelly Dube, and the late former Chitungwiza deputy mayor Fredrick Mabamba, who died in remand prison last week, were fingered in some of the illegal land deals.

The land barons were exposed by the Justice Tendai Uchena land audit report which indicated that the State might have lost over US$3 billion in the scam which involved top politicians, mainly from Zanu-PF.

According to the audit report, Zanu-PF officials illegally parcelled out State land in and around urban areas to lure voters.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration has declared war on land barons, but most of them are hitting back, with some arguing that they facilitated acquisition of land to home-seekers as a campaign strategy for the ruling party ahead of the 2013 elections and the 2016 by-elections.

Last week, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission arrested 10 suspected land barons from Ruwa and vowed not to leave any stone unturned in fighting graft.

Source - newsday