MUTARE – Mutare City Council’s corrupt officials sold stands in low density suburbs for as little as 60 cents per square metre with high density stands going for as high at $20 per square metre, the Daily News can reveal.
According to a critical forensic land audit report in our possession covering 2007 to March 2018 there was rampant corruption in the valuation of stands in the local authority with low density stands generally going for far much less than high density stands.
“The stands in low density areas were being sold at an intrinsic cost price ranging from $0,75 to $3,20 per square metre whilst stands in high density areas were sold at prices ranging from $0,53 to $20 per square metre depending on the individual status of the beneficiary,” the report revealed.
The audit noted that there was no uniformity in the valuation of stands even in the same area as the stands were being sold off at below market prices.
This was clear in Hospital Hill where an infill was created and stands were sold at prices ranging from $3,20 to $7 according to the audit findings.
Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi has dismissed an audit report which revealed that councillors — him included, bought 52 undervalued stands prejudicing council of over $80 000 which needs to be recovered.
Thirty-one of the stands are still to be paid for by the 19 Zanu PF and 12 MDC councillors. The forensic land management audit that exposed the anomaly blamed the under-pricing of the stands on the “ineffectiveness by council management in carrying out their responsibilities”.
Councillors got the land at give-away prices some as low as $600 after they were charged 40 percent of the intrinsic land value instead of the market value which would also encompass development costs prejudicing council of $80 842.46.
The audit recommended that council should comply with the ministry of Local Government’s circular number 12 of 2016 that requires 40 percent of the full purchase price to be charged and therefore demand that the councillors pay the difference.
“I would like to place it on record that contrary to suggestions in some sections of the media that my council was dismissive of the audit findings we have taken note of the undervaluation and we commit to pay whatever is owed,” Tandi said.
He, however, said the problem was partly with council management on whom the audit also laid the full blame.