via Chitungwiza residents call for arrest of officials in illegal land deals | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda December 12, 2013
The residents of Chitungwiza are calling for investigations and the arrests of all councillors, mayors and former local government officials that have been linked to illegal land deals, following a recent audit that has revealed widespread corruption and the allocation of illegal stands in the high-density suburb.
The calls follow a report presented to the Local Government Ministry this week, which showed that more than 23,000 illegal stands, valued at over $20 million, were sold to residents of Chitungwiza, making a fortune for several individuals who run illegal housing cooperatives.
Ironically, the report was presented Wednesday to the official alleged to be one of the key beneficiaries of illegal land deals around Harare, the Local Government Minister himself, Ignatius Chombo.
According to the Newsday newspaper, the scale of the corruption was described as “astounding” by the chairman of the audit team, Ronald Chimowa, as he presented the report. He said at least 23,074 illegal stands valued at $20,423,900 were created in Chitungwiza, with over 8,000 of them situated “in unsuitable areas”
Chombo last week suspended ward 25 councillor Frederick Mabamba, who features in the report as the key official who sold most of the illegal stands as chairman of the United We Stand Multipurpose Co-operative. He was also a losing ZANU PF mayoral candidate in elections earlier this year.
But the suspension has been dismissed as “window dressing” by Chitungwiza residents, who insist Chombo knew about the illegal deals and Mabamba and others must face criminal charges for defrauding unsuspecting residents.
Admire Zaya, director of the Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association (Chipra), told SW Radio Africa that Mabamba owns over 8,000 stands, with many built on sites that were meant for clinics, schools and other development projects.
“By suspending Mabamba, Chombo is trying to sweep the whole affair under the carpet and to protect him from further prosecution by the authorities. He is supposed to engage the Anti-corruption Commission and the Prosecutor General but in this way he also protects himself,” Zaya explained.
Newsday said their own investigations last month revealed that Mabamba is the owner of “six schools, hundreds of residential stands, two shopping complexes and numerous other properties in a town where the majority of residents are desperately looking for land to build their own homes”.
According to Zaya, Chombo is one of the officials alleged to have allowed these illegal land deals to take place and he knew the scale of the corruption and illegal locations of many of the stands.
“As Chitungwiza residents we are calling for the arrest of all councillors, mayors, former councillors and other officials who facilitated the illegal land deals and benefited from them,” Zaya said.
Meanwhile thousands of families stand to lose their homes if government carries out evictions of those whose properties are situated in locations deemed to be “unsuitable areas”. As always in Zimbabwe, it is the poor who suffer the most.