City finance director defends land deals

Source: City finance director defends land deals | Herald (Africa)

Yeukai Karengezeka Herald Correspondent

Chitungwiza Municipality’s finance director Mrs Evangelista Machona is caught up in a stand scandal after she was offered a commercial stand in 2015 and failed to pay for it within that year as stipulated in her offer letter and only paid the full value of US$219 227 in local currency at the rate of 1:1 this year, prejudicing council of US$200 000.

Mrs Machona was removed from the position of acting town clerk on Thursday last week through a council resolution and was replaced by works director Engineer David Duma, who himself is under investigation.

Three councillors and two senior directors have since been arrested and are assisting police with investigations.

Allegations are that they connived to remove Mrs Machona from her position as acting town clerk and for breaching the Urban Council’s Act.

Mrs Machona was offered a commercial stand of 72 839 square metres in Nyatsime to build a school after a council resolution of 2015, but was required to pay the US$219 227 by the middle of October 2016 according to the offer letter dated October 13, 2015 written by the housing and community services director.

She finally paid on July 3 this year when she became the acting town clerk, using the 1:1 rate which she said in an interview was still prevailing at the council.

“Yes, I got a school stand in Nyatsime in 2015 through a council resolution,” said Mrs Machona.

“I paid the full amount this year because I could not do it then because Nyatsime was invaded by illegal settlers and an interdict was put in place.”

Mrs Machona said she paid the amount in local currency because council is still using an exchange rate of $1 to US$1 and would only start using the prevailing rate in 2021.

In 2015, Mrs Machona’s husband Mr Jairos Machona was allocated a low density residential stand in Riverside measuring 1 641 square metres, but she said that was done through normal channels and an open council resolution.

Her daughter named Wadzanai Jenje was allocated commercial stand number 21 242 in Zengeza 2 on December 6 last year, but changed her mind and wrote to council on October 29, 2020 seeking the cancellation of the offer and requesting a refund claiming that she had found another stand elsewhere. The letter had to be sent to the acting town clerk  her mother.

This cancellation of an offer and payment of a refund is normal practice, but there is a report that her name is still in the financial system as the stand owner.

On her daughter’s issue, Mrs Machona said everything was done above board.

“The cancellation of her offer letter was above board,” she said.

“It went through the housing department and one Chibaya was handling the matter.

“If her name has not been deleted in the system it is not my fault, but that of the housing department.

“The department should complete its work. It should also be known that when a file is before the Registry with a folio it means all the paper work and due diligence was done.”