Brian Chitemba Investigations Editor
Harare City Council pampered senior MDC-T officials, including party deputy president Ms Thokozani Khupe, Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni and some councillors, with huge tracts of land in the leafy Mt Pleasant suburb.
According to documents seen by The Sunday Mail, Ms Khupe, who was Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive Government (2008-2013), and former ministers were allocated residential stands between 2009 and 2010. Ms Khupe confirmed that she got a residential property, which, she said, was paid for in cash.
However, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission suspects the properties were allocated and held for speculative purposes, with some MDC-T officials selling them for profit. Ms Khupe’s 3 741 square metre stand is valued at US$26 117, but the politician allegedly put it up for sale at US$90 000 and wanted the money deposited in an offshore account. Quizzed by The Sunday Mail over the stand sale, Ms Khupe said, “An offer came through an estate agent, but it was not taken up. This stand in question; I bought it for cash. During that same time, female ministers were given stands and I bought mine. We drilled a borehole last year.”
The stand is still vacant, although the agreement of sale states that construction was supposed to be completed 18 months after signing. Clause 8 of the agreement signed between Ms Khupe and City of Harare reads, “The construction of a dwelling house in accordance with the approved plan and specifications by the seller shall be commenced and completed within three months and 18 months, respectively, from the date of signing of the agreement of sale.
“Any extensions to the building period specified in the clause may be granted at the discretion of the seller, taking into account the building progress achieved by the purchaser. “For the purpose of Clause 8 hereof, ‘commenced’ means that foundations of the main building have been dug and the erection of the building is in progress at such rate as will ensure completion within the time prescribed in Clause 8 hereof. “In the event of a dispute as to whether building has been commenced in terms hereof, such dispute shall be referred to a single arbitrator nominated by the seller. ‘Completed’ means that a certificate of occupation of building as aforesaid has been issued in respect thereof in accordance with building by-laws of the City of Harare in force from time to time.”
Clr Manyenyeni, who got a 5 200 square metre stand valued at US$78 000 in 2016, said: “I asked to be the last to be given my council stand as a leader. I have been shown the stand and will pay before end of my term as required.” It is, however, understood that council asked Clr Manyenyeni to pay US$35 880 instead of the full amount.
Other councillors who benefited from the Mt Pleasant stands include Ward 41’s Clr Charity Bango who was allocated Stand Number 1005 valued at US$12 020.26, while Highlands Clr Peter Mudavanhu got Stand Number 1002 measuring 3 740 for US$10 469.20. A Zacc investigator said, “Questions are being raised as to why the value of stands of the same size varied. For instance, Ms Khupe’s stand measured 3 741 square metres and was priced at US$26 000, while Clr Mudavanhu’s 3 740 square metre stand was valued at US$10 469.”
Another added, “We want to determine how and why these stands were allocated when a circular by the Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo, dated August 6, 2015, stated that only councillors, mayors and chairpersons were supposed to benefit from council stands on condition that they have not benefited previously.
“The differences in stand prices raise suspicion, and we are checking whether the land was actually paid for. There are suspicions that the land was being re-sold at a profit.”
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