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Gov takes drastic action at Deeds Office

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Gov takes drastic action at Deeds Office

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NYORE MADZIANIKE

Government has moved in to investigate the Department of Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property following public complaints on corruption including the case of former Minister Dzingai Mutumbuka’s US$600 000 house whose title deeds were allegedly forged and the property illegally sold.
In addition there will be restructuring and sweeping changes at the department in order to curb corruption.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary, Mrs Vimbai Nyemba confirmed the developments in an interview with a local weekly, The Sunday Mail.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank has called for drastic action to contain problems at the Deeds Office.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is one of the entities that complained against the state of the Deeds Office. The Unit pointed out that the shambolic state of record-keeping at the department creates loopholes that could be used for money laundering.
FIU also fears that chaotic record-keeping at the Deeds Office could compromise Zimbabwe’s listing as a low-risk country for money laundering and financing of terrorism by the Financial Action Task Force. This would see Zimbabwe being penalised by the global financial crimes watchdog.
Nyemba said that her office is inundated with complaints against officials at the Deeds Office.
Sources said that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and Police are already inside looking into a number of complaints of misconduct and corruption by the office.
In particular, Nyemba said, the investigations are looking into the case of a Deeds Office supervisor, Lyna Mlambo who appeared in court two weeks ago on allegations of facilitating suspects who forged Mutumbuka’s title deeds.
“There will be changes in the way of doing business including introduction of staff rotations across different sections, random searching of all staff members, collaboration with stakeholders such as the Registrar-General for authentication of IDs and working closely with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to address any suspected cases of corruption.
“Additionally, the department has implemented thorough interviewing procedures for clients seeking replacement of documents and those entering the office.
“The Deeds supervisor was implicated in a case involving the fraudulent sale of a property.
“As a result, a criminal case has been opened against this employee and the case is on-going in the courts,” said Mrs Nyemba.
Cases involving fake, stolen or duplicate title deeds have been on the increase over the past few years, with some homeowners losing properties.
The new measures, Mrs Nyemba said, are meant to prevent fraudulent activities.
In a recent interview, FIU director-general, Oliver Chiperesa said: “Sadly, those tasked with running our companies’ registry have over the years let us down, and it is about time something drastic is done to ensure efficiency and effectiveness at our companies’ registry offices.”

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