BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Four top officials in the Local Government ministry were yesterday remanded in custody to today for bail hearing after they fraudulently dispossessed a housing co-operative of land and allocated it to people who were not on the Harare housing waiting list.
Andrew Rhory Shawatu, Nyarai Priscilla Mudzinge, Leah Chigoma and Daisy Mtyambizi appeared before Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje to answer to criminal abuse of office charges.
Shawatu was the principal administration officer for State lands, Mudzinge (director for local authorities), Chimoga (acting director for legal affairs) while Mtyambizi was the deputy director for spatial planning.
They allegedly attempted to convert land which was set aside as residential stands for Sally Mugabe Heights Housing Co-operative.
It is alleged that the co-operative was offered 760 hectares of land for residential stands at Acom Farm through an offer letter dated January 7, 2005, by the Local Government
On July 15 2005, the Department of Physical Planning, as stipulated in the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, approved a layout plan for a housing scheme called Acom Estate.
According to law, the ministry had to retain 10% to be allocated by the Local Government ministry for the construction of schools, health services, recreation facilities, and other compulsory public amenities.
Investigations, however, revealed that sometime between 2010 and April 2011, the quartet allegedly connived and wrote a memorandum to the secretary in the Local Government ministry recommending the allocation of Acom residential stands, disregarding the dictates of State Land Management Manual Part 2.
It is further alleged that the secretary then acted upon the misrepresentation and approved stands for 10 people who were not on the waiting list.
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