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ZACC tackles Deeds Office graft

by Staff reporter
28 May 2021 at 06:38hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), seeing a flood of fraud and corruption cases involving fake or stolen title deeds, or duplicate deeds has embarked on a series of awareness campaigns at the Deeds Office to help curb these crimes.

Several people have been victims of fraudsters who steal title deeds and property owners' identity documents, then sell land they do not own.

ZACC did not disclose the total number of fraud and corruption cases they have handled, but the commission indicated that the cases are many and at various stages.

Other investigating arms like the police are separately investigating related cases, an indication that the crimes are now rampant.

Police are on record stating that over 100 people have filed fraud reports at CID commercial crimes department since January this year. Some cases are still under investigation while others have been sent to court for prosecution.

ZACC spokesperson Mr Chamunorwa Murava said the training workshops on how to combat crimes at the Deeds Office were key in protecting the masses against loss of property and funds.

"Our public education department is carrying out a series of awareness campaigns at the Deeds Registry office. The national mantra of ‘Zimbabwe Open for Business' would be not complete without the input of the Deeds Department as property rights are key in any business operation.

"However, if there is rampant corruption in this organisation, talking of ease of doing business in Zimbabwe would just remain a pipe-dream.

"There would be a complete derail of the NDS1 resulting in failure of the national vision for a middle class economy by 2030.

"In view of this, the commission found it prudent to collaborate with this department as defined in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy to take stakeholders on board in combating corruption in Zimbabwe and carry out awareness campaigns," he said.

He added: "We have been handling a lot of alleged corruption cases from the Deeds Office, all at various stages of investigations. However, we are not at liberty to disclose the statistics at this juncture since investigations are ongoing."

ZACC has also received fraud and corruption reports linked to the Companies Registry.

"The Companies Registry is very important for any organisation to start business operation. It determines whether Zimbabwe is a good business destination for any business entrepreneur as it determines how cost effective and efficient a nation is in terms of business operations. We have also been receiving some reports of alleged corruption at this office," said Mr Murava.

The commission urged home-seekers to carry out thorough checks and research with authorities like local authorities, Deeds Office and other relevant offices before parting with their money. Involvement of legal practitioners is also important when one wants to buy an immovable property since only a lawyer is allowed to organise the transfer of a property.

There are allegations that criminals rope in rogue officers from the Deeds Registry and the Registrar General's Office who at times, supply them with title deeds and national identity cards of property owners for botched property sales.

The CID commercial crimes division said such cases were growing in Harare's medium and low density suburbs and some suspects had since been arrested and sent to court.

Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabiza recently said her ministry was in the process of computerising the records system at the Deeds Office to curb corruption and improve efficiency.

Source - the herald
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