Corruption rocks Mugabe’s backyard

MASSIVE corruption has hit President Robert Mugabe’s rural home, with top government officials reportedly benefiting from illicit land deals that have prejudiced Zvimba Rural District Council (ZRDC), already reeling under a $2,4 million tax debt, NewsDay can reveal.

Source: Corruption rocks Mugabe’s backyard – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 24, 2016

BY Albert Masaka

The scam includes awarding of contracts to companies to develop the upmarket Sandton suburb in Mt Hampden – the site for the proposed new capital – without going to tender, double allocation of stands, undervaluing land allocated to cronies and fraudulently reducing sizes of stands, among others.

This is revealed in council documents, which are expected to be tabled today at a full council meeting, where fireworks are expected.

Some of the beneficiaries of the alleged murky land deals include Innocent Tizora, the director of State residences, Mines minister Walter Chidakwa and Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, the Indigenisation minister, and local legislator, Felix Mukwangwariwa, among others.

A shelf company, Spincraft, was also allegedly created and allocated land at Rainham Farm measuring 2,6 hectares that was then subdivided at the council’s cost and reallocated without charging cession fees under the instruction of ZRDC chief executive officer, Peter Hlohla, prejudicing the council of thousands of dollars, the leaked documents revealed.

The CEO, the documents further alleged, made several unilateral decisions without council approval that have prejudiced the local authority of millions of dollars in compensation, including allocating himself allowances using government rates to go to Switzerland, when council had not approved the budget.

The ZRDC was also sitting on a $2,4 million tax debt, a figure that was arrived at after negotiations with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), down from $7,5 million after Hlohla engaged a tax consultancy firm, Misfort Tax Consultancy.

The CEO was now turning to a “political engagement” to stop Zimra from garnishing the local authority’s back accounts, the documents further reveal.

“The CEO was responsible for billing of Rainham, Murombedzi, Banket and Sandton, which created a huge debt in terms of penalties, and this burden will be passed to ratepayers for incompetence and ignorance on the part of the CEO,” part of the documents read.

Hlohla also allegedly awarded a contract without going to tender for the subdivision of plots in Rainham and without due process, which required that the said plots be repossessed.

“Upon repossession, the said plots were then supposed to be allocated, if the process was above board, following a council waiting list, which was never done,” the leaked documents continue.

“In some instances, he (Hlohla) went on to downsize the plots, as a way of clearing arrears without due authority of a resolution instructing or guiding him on the computation.

“By billing of Rainham as a planner, which was a prerogative of the finance department, Hlahlo went on to create a debt by billing Zimra exclusive of value-added tax, thereby, creating a tax obligation in both Sandton and Rainham exceeding $1 million and penalties were further added for non-remittances as a result of his actions.”

Hlohla also allegedly agreed to over-priced compensation rates for Rainham Abattoir in Nyabira, prejudicing ZRDC of millions of dollars.

“Having caused the loss of millions due to overcompensation, the resultant company, Blackdawn, was further allocated land, which had an approved layout done by another developer called Datco, which has created correspondences written by Datco claiming over $1,2 million for the portion of surveyed land allocated to Blackdawn.”

According to the documents expected to be tabled at a full council meeting today, more than 200 people not on the housing waiting list were allocated stands measuring between 1 000 and 4 000 square metres by ZRDC in the new Sandton suburb, prejudicing council of $4 600 worth of application fees at a cost of $23 per person.

Businessman, Lovemore Kurotwi also allegedly benefited immensely from the land deals, paying $96 000 for land valued at $426 700.

Contacted for comment over allegations raised in the documents, Hlohla first referred all questions to the ZRDC chairman.

But he later denied any wrongdoing in the execution of his duties. He said everything was done above board by council and the Local Government ministry was aware.

“The issue is, whatever is there was done above board through resolutions and many of those projects you are talking about were started before I was appointed CEO. I was a planner then,” Hlohla said.

“All those things done by council, there are papers and settlements to prove that they were above board.”

The documents further question the rationale behind the CEO having to drive from Chinhoyi to work, claiming fuel from the local authority, when he was allocated a council house.