Land barons back as 2019 report gathers dust in Mnangagwa’s office
By Garikai Mafirakureva | Masvingo Mirror |
CHIREDZI – Land barons are back to their old ways of milking civil servants as the Commission of Inquiry into the matter of sale of State Land’s report submitted in 2019 gathers dust in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office.
The Land Commission given impetus by President Mnangagwa in 2018 could after all be nothing but just a smokescreen.
This is the view of civil servants who only last week received notices from Shine Plus, a land developer investigated by the Commission that they would with immediate effect have US$100 deducted from their salaries direct from SSB and paid towards residential stands in Chiredzi.
The notice read, “To all our valued clients. Please note that we will be deducting US$100 as monthly contributions from your nostro account.”
Deputy Minister of Local government and Public works, Marian Chombo said she will confront Chiredzi Town Council and get to the bottom of the matter.
The beneficiaries have since written a letter to Chiredzi Town Council accusing it of being in complicit with the land developer. The council have alleged stopped approving housing plans to force beneficiaries to pay to Shine Plus.
Ironically according to the supposed beneficiaries Shine Plus never paid a cent for the huge swathe of land that it got from Chiredzi Town Council and subdivided thereby creating 330 medium density stands and 560 low density stands.
The land developer has not developed anything on the stands, according to the beneficiaries.
What is also mind-boggling is that the US dollars that the civil servants are getting are not part of their salaries but a critical allowance to cushion them against the harsh economy and a paltry salary of about ZWL$140 000. Allowances are not part of salaries and therefore cannot be subjected to mandatory deductions.
However, Acting Town Secretary, Wesley Kauma insisted that Shine Plus bought the land from council but would not give the figure. He acknowledged that there are virtually no developments made to the land.
Shine Plus senior executives declined to comment and instead issued a Press statement calling on beneficiaries to visit their offices and collect statements of their balances.
One of the recommendation in Justice Uchena-led Commission’s report gathering dust in President Mnangagwa’s office is that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Police must investigate all officers, past and present, involved or connected with management of urban State land.
So far there has been virtually no investigation after the release of the report and the condemned land barons have revived their activities.
Disgruntled Civil Park residents have since written to Chiredzi Town Council (CTC) and Shine Plus complaining about the state of affairs. They accuse CTC and Shine Plus of shortchanging them.
Part of the letter signed by Trevor Davies Mzama, and was gleaned by The Mirror reads: “A state of deep concern is emerging on the ground on issues regarding Shine Plus. While we are not privy to the arrangements between CTC and Shine Plus we are gravely concerned about several violations and omissions in their provision of the most basic services. We refuse to believe CTC is ignorant of its shortcomings thus we hold you equally accountable.
“We therefore demand that CTC and its partner meet us at a date no later than 15 October 2022 to clarify their position concerning the following. Water delivery in Shine Plus Civil Park, road construction in the park, electrification, property values and balances against deductions or premiums from 2013.
“It is alleged that CTC has been conducting some land audit in the Civil Park thus been refusing to accept and or release plans since December. We pray you will address this gross violation of our civil liberties with the utmost respect and urgency it deserves.”
Memory Shumba, a beneficiary lamented the deduction of their US$ from their allowances.
“They have stopped the approval of plans since March this year, but they are still deducting our money. There is no development in the area and we are using only two community taps. Now they are talking of deducting our US dollar component.
“Why did they choose foreign currency? They are running away from using the official bank rate,” said Shumba.
United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA) programs and communication officer, Constance Chikumbo, said they condemn the deal between CTC and Shine because its was done surreptitiously.
“The deal between Shine Plus and CTC was a shoddy one which is milking ordinary residents who were desperate for residential homes. Over five years the area has not been serviced. There are no roads, refuse collection and sufficient safe water. The mystery remains on what the terms and conditions of the project are.
“As UCHIRRA we are concerned with the state of living of those residents who fully paid or still paying but didn’t receive any service. Our worry is on the outbreak of diseases like cholera and typhoid due to bush toilets and dump sites. Recently residents from that area wrote to CTC with their grievances but they were not replied,” said Chikumbo.