The report that 10 and 12-year-olds were allocated land under the land reform programme has received a lot of mileage but raises a very important question unless Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora was misquoted.
While it is quite possible that children got land because of the rampant corruption in the country, Mombeshora’s explanation does not make sense.
According to The Herald, Mombeshora said the anomaly was discovered after his ministry took batches of IDs to the Registrar-General’s office to cross check.
“What we have been doing is to take a batch of ID numbers to the Office of the Registrar-General for them to give us details of the beneficiaries, including the date of birth to cross-check with what we have in our database. We are also discovering a number of anomalies. You know our policy, we do not give somebody land who is less than 21 years, but we are getting people with 10 years, 12 years, owning plots and that could explain why some plots are vacant. Some people acquired farms on behalf of their children and used the correct ID numbers, but lied on the dates of birth.”
The question is: How did 10-year-olds or 12-year-olds get IDs, if according to Mombeshora their parents used correct IDs but lied about the date of birth?
The law says a person must be at least 16 years to get a national ID? Or has the age been lowered? The person must also physically go to the registration office to have pictures and fingerprints taken. Surely even if someone is a midget, one can tell that this person is not 16.
Maybe Mombeshora was talking about another form of ID and not the national identity card? Obviously it cannot be a birth certificate, which everyone should have at birth, because he says ID numbers are used to generate offer letters.
Mombeshora’s explanation does not add up and makes it imperative to carry a comprehensive land audit, preferably an independent audit.
Interestingly Mombeshora says the government needs US$35 million to carry out a comprehensive audit, and he is only saying it now when the government does not have money yet donors were falling over each other to sponsor the audit during the inclusive government but ZANU-PF dilly dallied.