Major shake-up at Deeds Office

A MAJOR shake-up to eliminate corrupt activities in the Department of Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property is underway, The Sunday Mail has learnt.

This follows a series of complaints and accusations of malpractices reported against the department.

Cases involving fake, stolen or duplicate title deeds have been on the increase over the past few years, with some homeowners claiming to have lost properties resultantly.

The Sunday Mail has since established that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Police Anti-Corruption Unit are presently looking into a number of complaints over the conduct of officials at the Deeds Office.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Mrs Vimbai Nyemba confirmed that measures to clean up the department, which falls under the ministry, were underway.

“Following allegations and complaints of corrupt and fraudulent activities in the Department of Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property, investigations have been initiated into the records and information unit,” she said.

“The supervisor has been 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 ongoing in the courts,” said Mrs Nyemba.

She confirmed that her office had been inundated with complaints against officials at the Deeds Office.

The Government, Mrs Nyemba said, is now taking a number of measures to reform the department.

“In response to these complaints, the department has taken action to address the issue by implementing measures aimed at curbing fraudulent and corrupt activities among employees,” she added.

“These measures include 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 new measures, Mrs Nyemba said, are meant to prevent fraudulent activities.

“These measures are intended to ensure transparency, accountability and the prevention of any further fraudulent or corrupt activities within the department.

“The department is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, and these steps have been taken to restore public trust and confidence in the Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property Department.”

Recently, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) raised concern over the shambolic state of record-keeping in the department, which it says creates loopholes that could be used for money laundering.

In a recent interview, FIU director-general Mr 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.”

The unit believes chaotic record-keeping in the Department of Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property could compromise Zimbabwe’s listing as a low-risk country for money laundering and financing of terrorism by the Financial Action Task Force, a development that could see the country being penalised by the global financial crimes watchdog.

A supervisor at the Deeds Office, Ms Lynna Mlambo, is currently before the courts over her alleged involvement in a murky deal that saw former Education Minister Dr Dzingai Mutumbuka claiming he was defrauded of his Chisipite house.

Sunday Mail

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