180 housing co-ops take Udcorp to court

Source: 180 housing co-ops take Udcorp to court | The Herald

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
AT least 180 housing cooperatives allocated residential land in Harare have sued the Urban Development Corporation over the alleged unilateral raiding of bank accounts and looting of millions of dollars.

Udcorp, a Government entity mandated to ensure provision of housing, has reportedly raided various bank accounts held by housing cooperatives and blocked the account holders from accessing them.

It has reportedly taken over the cooperatives’ operations without any legal basis.

There are also allegations that millions of dollars have been collected from cooperative members and bank accounts without proper accountability.

Udcorp and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing are under fire for meddling in the allocation of housing stands in areas given to cooperatives.

Udcorp is also being accused of making fresh allocation of cooperative land to other people, a development that has caused double allocation and chaos in the housing sector.

Millions of dollars have been collected so far from the cooperatives by Udcorp, the cooperatives claim.

Zimbabwe National Cooperative Federation, Home Struggle Housing Cooperative Union, Harare North Housing Cooperative Society, Ushewokunze Housing Cooperative Society and Harare South Housing Apex Society have filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to bar Udcorp from asking for subscriptions from cooperative members.

The five cooperative societies represent at least 180 affiliate cooperatives allocated land in different parts of Harare.

They also seek an order of the court stopping Udcorp from blocking cooperatives from accessing their money in their bank accounts.

Chengeta Law Chambers filed the application on behalf of the cooperatives.

In the urgent chamber application, Udcorp and the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere were listed as respondents.

On July 29, cooperatives affiliated to Home Struggle Housing Cooperative Union failed to access their funds at CBZ Bank.

The manager at the bank referred the cooperatives to Udcorp for permission to access the bank accounts.

On August 10, the cooperatives went to the Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises for clarification on the extent to which Udcorp can control or interfere with their operations.

Udcorp reportedly transferred money from the cooperatives’ accounts into its own account with the assistance of CBZ Bank.

“In the meantime, more of our members reported blocked accounts and stolen funds. On August 11, we learnt that some funds had been put on auto transfer to Udcorp with the assistance of CBZ,” read an affidavit by chairman of the Zimbabwe National Cooperative Federation Mr Micah Duru.

Mr Duru said Udcorp had threatened to take over stands from some cooperatives and the membership was now living in fear. It is the cooperatives’ argument that Government had banned the existence of cooperatives without stating where such power derived from.

The Local Government’s actions were not backed by any legal instruments, hence they must be nullified.

“Udcorp is presently taking money from cooperatives accounts and spending it as it wishes claiming that it is the President who authorised the present chaos by the first and second respondent. This is a lie because the funds are being misused without accountability to the members,” reads the affidavit.

The cooperatives allege that an Air Commodore was at the centre of Udcorp and that he was using his military influence to intimidate the cooperative members.

Harare North Cooperative Society paid $700 000 to Udcorp but no meaningful projects were done and in Caledonia $23 million was paid.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing at the High Court.