By Innocent Ruwende
Businessman and former Zanu PF Chitungwiza Ward 25 councillor Fredrick Mabamba is facing arrest for allegedly selling State land meant for a school to more than 120 home-seekers in the satellite town.
The home seekers allege that Mabamba pocketed more than $500 000, although he did not pay for the land in question and now Chitungwiza Municipality was demanding $1 500 from residents to regularise their stay.
More than 50 land barons, including Mabamba, are already appearing in court for allegedly selling State and council land in Harare.
According to a letter written by Town Clerk Mr George Makunde addressed to “Mabamba Residents” dated June 9 this year, council is demanding payment from the home seekers to regularise their stay.
“Please be advised that your members have to pay $1 500 each penalty fee for occupying State land without authority to kick start regularisation process,” reads the letter.
“Mabamba residents” allege that they paid money around $5 000 each to Mabamba through his United We Stand Cooperative, thinking that they were genuine stands.
“We did not know that the land was earmarked for other purposes. We were told to pay and start building but to our surprise we are now being asked to pay to regularise our stay when we thought we were genuine landlords,” said a resident.
The residents say they have since reported the matter to the police.
Mabamba yesterday conceded that the land in question was not meant for residential settlement and that he did not apply for change of ownership.
He, however, argued that it was not State land but council land, saying he had a lease he signed with Chitungwiza Municipality.
“We never duped anyone. It is not State land, we were allocated the land to develop a school and we subdivided it to create residential stands. We had the right to apply for subdivision but we did not apply for one.
“Council should actually thank me for putting money into their coffers. Council is continuously changing goal posts. They made these people pay $120 to regularise or to be relocated,” he said.
In 2014, Mabamba, who was accused of being the chief architect of land allocation scams in the town, was dismissed from the local authority.
The then Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo dismissed Mabamba from council after he was convicted of gross mismanagement of council affairs by a disciplinary tribunal.
The dismissal was recommended by a board of enquiry in terms of Section 114 (i) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15).
Mabamba, through his United We Stand Housing Co-operative, was fingered in an audit report as the chief “land baron” in the illegal allocation of more than 8 000 residential stands to desperate home-seekers in Chitungwiza, an allegation he denied. The Herald