By Vusumuzi Dube
The Bulawayo City Council has resolved to repossess 179 stands in Cowdray Park, Entumbane and Pumula after the owners failed to develop them.
Some of the property owners have gone for 22 years without making any meaningful development of their stands after having been allocated in 1998.
Among those who risk losing their stands are some beneficiaries of the Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle Project.
Council officially took over the Hlalani Kuhle Project in 2012, in keeping with the Cabinet decision of May 2009 which had directed that all projects be handed over to local authorities.
According to the latest council report the 179 stands had largely gone undeveloped and were owing a total of $490 986 in unpaid rates.
“A total of 179 stands which had been in segment five had been allocated stands during the year 2012. The stands had been at different levels of development. The beneficiaries had not complied with council resolution and Cabinet decision of May 2009 as the stands had remained undeveloped,” reads the council report.
The local authority, however, resolved that the beneficiaries will be given first option to re-purchase the stands at a price recommended by a city valuer, with the offer valued for three months.
The local authority said the repossessed stands will also assist in solving the problem of double allocation especially at Cowdray Park, with some of the repossessed stands set to be given to the people affected.
“It had been therefore directed that council should resolve the challenges of double allocations without prejudicing those beneficiaries with genuine need for shelter, with the major highlight on re-allocation.
“Failure to take up the offer to repurchase the stands in Cowdray Park they will be repossessed and used to solve outstanding double allocations and the excess be allocated to deserving beneficiaries in the Council waiting list,” reads the report.
Second priority of the repossessed stands will be given to beneficiaries who had paid development fees to the Bulawayo Home Seekers Consortium Trust and lease fees to the local authority.
“For those in Entumbane and Pumula Township the repossessed stands will be allocated to deserving beneficiaries in the council waiting list,” reads the council report.
As at May the local authority’s housing waiting list stood at 125 207.
Early this year the local authority announced that it will be repossessing 26 properties in the city after their owners failed to heed an ultimatum requiring them to either pay their rates or resume development works within their stands.
The local authority, in November last year, gave 1 009 property owners that had abandoned their assets or negated to pay rates and develop their stands a final 30-day notice before the local authority repossesses and auctions them.
In 2014 the local authority had initially flighted advertisements exposing over 2 000 properties which the owners had not only abandoned but were not paying their obligated rates and rentals.
BCC has the authority to repossess these properties as guided by the Titles registration and derelict lands Act (chapter 20:20).
The Act states that; “Persons having claim on derelict land may apply to High Court or other public body upon immovable property in Zimbabwe and such property is abandoned, deserted derelict, and the owner thereof cannot be found, it shall be lawful for the person or body claiming such rate or assessment to apply to the High Court, stating the amount claimed to be due and the grounds applying for relief under this Act.” Sunday News