Articles

Setting up of committee to probe Deeds Office, a noble idea

Just as parasitic leaches will suck the blood and strength of an animal, so corruption will weaken and destroy society and the economy that supports that society. The government has set up a committee to deal with suspected corruption and alleged mismanagement at the Deeds Office that has seen fake title deeds flooding the property market.  The 16-member All-Stakeholders committee is also meant to look into other issues affecting the Deeds Office will consist of two members representing each of the eight selected stakeholders to fight rampant underhand deals at the Deeds Office and line departments. The members were drawn from the Law Society of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the High Court, the Surveyor General's Office, Deeds Office, Zimra, Estate Agents Council and the Registrar General's Office Chief Registrar of Deeds and Companies. The committee was established following a public outcry over the rate at which fake title deeds were being used to dupe innocent home seekers of their hard-earned cash.

In a normal situation the commission has two main functions, to seek the general causes of corruption and recommend the action needed to eliminate these, and to look at actual cases, see how the perpetrators can be hunted down, and then see how the door can be closed to stop the next one trying to get through.

On the other hand there is need for the Deed's office to upgrade the land registry system and bring it at par with international standards. Deeds office should computerise their operations for by its very nature, the deeds office should have mechanisms in place that prevent such and should be held responsible for such utter incompetence. The committee should consider putting in place security measures to protect potential buyers. Verification of the authenticity of title deeds should be simple and available at the click of a button as in other jurisdictions. The commission will need some professional staff in our opinion; but they presumably can call on the police, the Auditor General or the equivalents in the private sector when necessary.

Now that a commission has been set what is needed now are ideas, policies and a culture that makes cheating and corruption unacceptable. Conduct a search in the Deeds Office in terms of Section 9 of the Deeds Registries Act (Chapter 20:05) to ensure in the following:

·                 The authenticity of title deeds

·                 The rightful registered owner of the property

·                 Any third party interested against the property

Corruption in Zimbabwe remains a worrying cancer fuelled by ZANU PF which has used state resources to entrench its hold on power and to oil a patronage system. Despite continued calls for the investigation into corruption and increased accountability, it seems the cancer continues to spread, eating away the economy. The inclusive government has done little to put an end to corruption with reports of some Members of Parliament from across the political divide misappropriating thousands of dollars earmarked for development under the Community Development Fund (CDF). Such acts of primitive accumulation of wealth and self - enrichment of politicians at the expense of the poor majority is an assault of the country's economic and social development.

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