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Spotlight on housing allocation ‘graft’

04 Sep, 2016 - 00:09 0 Views
Spotlight on housing allocation ‘graft’ Minister Saviour Kasukuwere

The Sunday Mail

President Mugabe has slammed corrupt allocation of residential land, saying youths in particular deserved access to affordable and decent housing.

President Mugabe’s Government has launched a national programme to provide housing to all people in general and youths in particular.

At a ruling party National Youth Assembly meeting in Harare yesterday, President Mugabe said: “We are going ahead to meet the needs of our people in general, and in particular those of our youths, who constitute the majority of our population.

“Government is currently seized with wanting to ensure that land is availed to our youth for residential purposes. So far residential stands have been allocated to youths in Harare, Bulawayo in Manicaland, in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West.

“I encourage those who are still waiting to be patient as the necessary processes are underway.

“Musacheme kuti ‘ah tiri kusiiwa’. Vakandiudza kuti havasati vapedza, maministers. We want to ensure that services and all requirements are met first before people are allocated residential stands. Anoda kusevhiswa ma stands acho musati maapiwa.

“Remember, we also need to provide schools, hospitals, clinics and shops pama area ipapo and it takes time, naturally.

“And we also would also want to guard against corruption with regard stand distribution. Kwete kutengwa, munhu apihwe stand, aiwa. Kana kuti ‘ndipe mari yakati ndigokupa stand’, (kana) kukurumidza kukupa, aiwa. We don’t want that.”

Incidentally, sources said Harare youths had been muscled out of a planned residential development at Chishawasha B Farm.

Youths were allocated 300 hectares of the 2 848,77ha farm that lies along Arcturus Road.

Insiders said that offer had been withdrawn in unclear circumstances, but yesterday Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said that was not the case.

Offer letters to several political bigwigs were withdrawn. Some of the bigwigs are understood to have used shelf companies to mask their allocations.

As at July 26, according to documents from the Local Government Ministry’s State Land Management section, Chishawasha B had been allocated as follows: Udcorp 1 000ha; National Housing Fund 378ha; Harare Youths 300ha; Homelink 200ha; Twinbag Investments, N-Frays Infrastructure, Farmtel Investments (Cde Terrence Mukupe), Nettfields Investments (Pvt) Ltd and Mahlaba Pvt Ltd (100ha each); Elephant Trust (linked to a Cabinet minister) 70ha; and Zimshelter, Washtrom, Denrock Investments (Cde Kudzai Chipanga) and Casewood (Cde Tongai Kasukuwere) (50ha each).

It is understood that some of these firms are linked to Cdes Betty Kaseke, Sarah Mahoka, Innocent Hamandishe and Shadreck Mashayamombe.

Farmtel, Denrock, Casewood and Cde Kaseke reportedly signed memoranda of agreements with the Local Government Ministry to develop the land on July 29.

Around that same time, Prophet Walter Magaya’s Planet Africa is said to have signed a memorandum of agreement with the ministry for 300ha.

Prophet Magaya

Prophet Magaya

Documents indicate Planet Africa paid a deposit of US$100 000 on August 10. On August 17 Minister Kasukuwere withdrew all offer letters except for Planet Africa.

It is alleged that Planet Africa was subsequently offered land reserved for youths, with some quarters speaking of an “improper relationship” between the minister and the prophet.

Prophet Magaya could not be reached for comment yesterday, but an official at his PHD Ministries headquarters in Harare said their transactions were above board.

“We applied for land and it was allocated to us. We have paid for all the land we are pursuing housing development on.

“Of the land we are building on, 80 percent has been purchased from private sellers and the remainder from the State. In the case of Chishawasha B, we were offered 300 hectares and we have paid deposit for that.

“As far as we know, the land that we bought was not allocated to youths, and we would have no interest in disempowering young Zimbabweans. We only know of our 300 hectares and cannot comment on anything else that is happening on that farm,” he said.

Minister Kasukuwere dismissed allegations of impropriety, saying the priority list for Chishawasha B had youths, women the Urban Development Corporation and Homelink.

“We gave women who are setting up a scheme, the youth and Udcorp, and the next one in line is the Reserve Bank under the housing scheme run by Homelink for Zimbabweans who are outside the country, because it is quite attractive to bring in money and for the Reserve Bank to mop up as much currency as possible.

“There were allocations that were done wrongly and we have cancelled everything. If you want to see my letter of reversal I can give it to you. We have reversed everything that had been done.”

The minister said PHD was yet to get land and that the church was in discussions with Udcorp to that end.

“We have instituted a very robust system which ensures that anyone who gets land must pay for it.

“We are coming from a background where co-operatives were taking State land, where individuals were taking State land and not paying a cent; developing stands and houses, making money, and nothing coming to the fiscus.

“PHD has come forward, (Prophet Emmanuel) Makandiwa has come forward and many other church organisations who want to develop housing — those will be entertained within the Urban Development Corporation overall framework.”

He said the ministry would listen to offers from organisations that could provide development funding and then use that money to deliver serviced stands to those who ordinarily could not access housing on the open market.

However, it is understood that at least one of the firms whose offer was withdrawn has written to the Local Government Ministry threatening legal action.

Part of the generic withdrawal letters read: “This ministry regrets to advise you that the offer of (number of hectares) of land at Chishawasha B Farm is being withdrawn with immediate effect due to other pressing needs for land in this area.

“Consequent to this decision to withdraw the land offer, the memorandum of understanding which had been signed between yourselves and the ministry has been deemed cancelled.”

At a rally in Caledonia yesterday, Harare East MP Cde Mukupe bemoaned corruption in residential accommodation planning.

“When Urdcorp took over in Caledonia, we thought the settlement would be regularised and that there would be development but now there seems to be more corruption taking place than development, and Government is working on tackling such issues so that people have decent accommodation.

“We understand construction of the road that connects to Damafalls has stopped and that workers are no longer being paid, when residents are paying the organization monthly.

“We are working on all those issues so that development takes place in this area and that people have decent housing. “

Our investigations show that the Chishawasha B saga started on September 4, 2015 when Cde Mukupe approached the Local Government Ministry seeking approval for urban development on 710,226ha of Chishawasha B.

The property fell under the jurisdiction of the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry and on October 21, 2015 Minister Kasukuwere asked for its transference to his brief.

Around March this year, Lands Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora formally handed over the farm to Local Government.

Soon after that, Minister Kasukuwere issued offer letters to Cdes Mahoka, Mashayamombe and Choto, at which point Cde Mukupe threatened to expose what he felt was corrupt allocation of the land.

The three offer letters were withdrawn, and in April Minister Kasukuwere issued 13 new ones, only to withdraw all but that for Prophet Magaya’s Planet Africa three days later.

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