LOCAL NEWS

Massive land looting in Harare uncovered

CCC councillors in Harare are engaging in a disgusting land scam in which they acquire commercial and industrial premises for as little as US$60 and resale them for more than US$120 000.

They are working in collusion with high council executives and their MDC Alliance colleagues.

According to documents obtained by The Herald, the council’s Mayor, Jacob Mafume, and numerous councillors from the opposition CCC and MDC, including Messrs Denford Ngadziore, Stanley Manyenga, Adonia Shoko, and Jason Kautsa, have acquired land in Harare.

Councillors Happymore Gotora, Joseph Kunashe, Keith Charumbira, Brian Matione, Costa Mande, Maxwell Dutuma, Midia Mudariki, Tichaona Mhetu, Runyowa Chihoma, and Gaudencia Marera are all implicated in the land fraud.

According to the dossier, Ward 5 Belvedere Councillor Mudariki and a council official Francis Mukanhairi each got a 220 square-metre commercial stand in Budiriro for US$66 with an option of paying using local currency at the prevailing equivalent rate.

In Cleveland Industrial area, Ngadziore, who was arrested last week on land scams, got 6 692sqm for US$1 000, Gotora paid $620 for 5 164sqm, while Kautsa got 3 834 sqm for US$575.

In Aspindale, councillor Mande got a 7 327 square-metre stand for US$1 100 or equivalent at the prevailing interbank rate while Mhetu is paying US$1 218 for an 8 117 sqm stand. On the other hand, Matione paid US$925 for a 6 163sqm stand.

In the same area, Kunashe got a 6 929sqm for US$1 040, Charumbira got 5 293 sqm for US$790, acting town clerk Moyo got a 5 052 stand for US$760 and acting finance director Kusangaya got 5 809 square metres for US$872 or the local currency equivalent.

Clrs Dutuma and Kashangura got a 5 474 square metres Industrial stand in Glaudina for $550 which was valued at $0,10 cents per square metre.

The councillors and top council management conveniently suspended the procedure followed when allocating land to councillors and top management.

A land allocation report prepared by Mr Godfrey Kusangaya, the acting finance director and subsequently submitted to the Finance and Development Committee by Phakamile Mabhena Moyo, the acting town clerk, said the councillors and council management masquerade as indigenous black businesspeople engaged in small businesses yet they are not.

According to laid down procedures that are set in terms of international best corporate governance practices, councillors are allocated land in terms of a Local Government ministerial circular and through the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee and not as private applicants through the Finance and Development Committee.

Management is also allocated land through the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee.

According to recommendations of the Finance and Development Committee minutes dated November 14 adopted by the 1914th ordinary council, minutes dated November 29 and Finance and Development Committee, minutes dated 14 December 2022, and adopted by the 1916th Full Council on Wednesday 21 December 2022, councillors and top management appear to have conveniently set aside the procedures set out by council itself in terms of the resolution of the Land Alienation Sub Committee recorded in Item 3(3) which was adopted by Full Commission on 29 September 2009 under Item 16 .

The dossier notes that individual councillors and employees were hand-picked by other senior employees, who then proceeded to proffer reports recommending allocation of the individual councillors and employees through the Finance and Development Committee.

Since the reports are on allocations of stands in separate locations, in one location, the councillors and employees submit their names directly and in another location they submit names of dubious companies.

It is alleged that councillors who benefited in Aspindale through their direct personal names, also benefited in Cleveland through phantom companies.

The report further states that recommendations were rubber stamped by the Finance and Development Committee before being passed on to full council for endorsements. During the rubber stamping exercise, the committee is chaired by a roving chairperson.

Chairpersons alternate their responsibility for chairing on items depending on who is to benefit on the recommendations in the item on the agenda.

“Thus the different chairpersons for the day for the same committee will exchange the responsibility for “passing on the gift” to their colleagues. Such round robin chairing is repeated until all items are deliberated upon and until all interested councillors and top management officials are allocated.”

For instance, on December 14, councillors who had benefited from illicit land sales in Aspindale recused themselves from the meeting where they got land almost on a gratis.

“The following applicants recused themselves during consideration of the matter, Warren Chiwawa, Godfrey Kusangaya, and Cllr C Mande, during which Cllr GT Hadebe was in the chair during consideration of this item 15,” read part of the report.

Hence, when a councillor or town official was set to benefit, he would recuse himself while the matter was being deliberated by his cronies.

The report further states that conditions for the leasing and or sale are substantially exaggerated in favour of the councillors and employees cum beneficiaries.

“Doctored and unsubstantiated land valuations are inferred from comparisons made with Real Estate Agents whose values are not in tandem with council land since their values are for built up properties.

“After resolving in their favour, they will enter into lease agreements, some with an option to buy the stands and in other instances the individual beneficiary councillors and or employees proceed to sell the stands to needy citizens for not less than US$120 000 and cede rights to the buyers.”

Further, the documents detail how outright purchases were then done in the name of the ceded beneficiary and they then come back to restart the process to parcel out new stands using the same modus operandi.

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