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Ministry cracks whip on council land deals

by Staff reporter
04 Aug 2020 at 08:07hrs | Views
The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has directed all local authorities to submit information relating to land deals conducted under the current crop of Councillors whose tenure expires in 2023.

The directive was issued by Secretary for Local Government and Public Works Mr Zvinechimwe Churu through a circular addressed to all town clerks and town secretaries dated July 28, 2020 with the reference "Information on estate management".

He said in light of the numerous, recent cases reported on and uncovered by investigations, each council was required to submit a number of documents to the ministry by today, including "a printout from the Estates Account of all persons paying for land acquired from council".

Mr Churu also requested a list of all stands, residential, commercial or industrial, with the following information: the name of the councillor and his or her ward, the size of the stand and the price.

In addition, councils are expected to indicate whether the councillor is still in possession of the stand or it has been sold or ceded, the name of the new stand owner and the status of payment for the stand as well as the level of development that has occurred on the stand.

Mr Churu also requested a list of all infills created since the swearing in of councillors and the beneficiaries of the stands created and a list of stands available in the council land bank. The move has since been welcomed by residents.

Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust president Mr Shalvar Chikomba commended the ministry for the decision, but said in future it should avoid acting in a reactive manner.

"We hope after collecting all this information they will act accordingly. We also want lifestyle audits of councillors and high-ranking council officials in all cities and rural district councils because we want transparency, no more room for corruption. We want service delivery to be prioritised by these councils," he said.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said the Government was justified to demand specific information about council's estate management.

"There is no land bank, neither is there an electronic housing waiting list, so everything is handled by the corrupt councillors and officials. The investigation should be thorough, transparent and accountable to the ratepayers," he said.

"The HRT commends the Government for listening to the demands of the organisation to probe the land allocations scandal in the City of Harare covering the period when this new council came into office."

Mr Shumba said the city fathers have proven to be the worst in terms of their policy making and implementation of their resolutions.

He further demanded that the Government should ensure that all those who illegally benefited from corrupt land deals should lose the land and follow the proper procedures by first being on the housing waiting list.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Ms Alice Kuveya applauded the move saying residents hoped that the councils would comply.

"A lot of council land is being sold for the benefit of few individuals, it is high time transparency prevails," she said.

"We have residents who have been on waiting list for the past 10 years or more but there are some people who came recently and got stands because they paid in US dollars."

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Source - the herald