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implicated in new Zim land scandal
Kudzai Mashininga, Mail and Guardian (SA)
September 06, 2013
minister Ignatius Chombo has been sucked into another land scandal
after a company linked to him was allocated land on which a number
of tenants already have 30-year leases granted in 2012.
council minutes, the company, Trynmerge Investments, would get a
stand measuring 23 212m2 at the corner of Bulawayo Road and 1st
Street in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana to construct a shopping
to grant Trynmerge Investments the lease was made recently by a
government-appointed commission that has been running the affairs
of the Harare City Council since the dissolution of Parliament and
councils on June 28 ahead of the July
elections, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won control
of Harare, but a caretaker council is presiding over the capital’s
municipality as the new councillors are yet to assume their duties.
of the caretaker council meeting dated July 24 say Trynmerge Investments
must first lease the land at US$0.30 a square metre and be given
the option to purchase it after five years on condition that a principal
commercial building was erected within that period.
that notwithstanding council policy recorded under item three of
the minutes of the land alienation subcommittee dated 26th September
2005 to lease such stands through tender and subject to the provisions
of section 152 of the urban councils act (chapter 29:15), stands
17108, 17110, 15413 and 10500 Kuwadzana township be leased to Tynmerge
Investments for construction of a multipurpose shopping mall,”
reads the caretaker council’s minutes.
shall, at its own cost, apply and obtain change-of-use permits for
the stands from community centre, polyclinic and church use to commercial
say Chombo is linked to the company and is set to benefit.
A senior source
at Town House said: “The minister [Chombo] may be running
it [Tynmerge] through a proxy.”
Efforts to reach
Chombo for comment were fruitless. Attempts to find out from Tynmerge
Investments how it acquired the lease and whether it was aware that
the land was already being leased were also unsuccessful.
there is not much development on the land as it is mainly leased
by churches that conduct services in tents. There is also a clinic
and community centre popularly known as “kwaHolland”.
The value of the land could not be established.
The pastor of
Charis Ministries said, when he heard that Chombo was supposed to
take over the land, he initially dismissed it as mere rumour as
the church had a 30-year lease that was granted in July 2012.
not to gazette the takeover
The pastor said,
though no formal communication had taken place, council sources
had told the tenants that there was a move not to gazette the takeover
to avoid their objections.
been told about the minutes and that the local government minister
[Chombo] is the one who wants to take over. There is no clause in
our lease that talks about a takeover before the 30 years are up.
They did that [granting the lease to Tynmerge Investments] when
there was a caretaker council,” said the pastor.
thinking of having a meeting with the minister. Three churches are
councillor, Wilson Njanjazi, elected on July 31, said people in
his area had been approaching him saying they had heard that minister
Chombo was taking over the land.
them that I have not been sworn in. I referred them to the chamber
secretary and the town clerk,” Njanjazi said.
Josephine Ncube said: “I can’t comment. Go through the
public relations manager.”
secretary for local government for Harare province, Warship Dumba,
said the outgoing party’s councillor for the area had notified
them of the development, but they were going to instruct the incoming
council as the granting of the lease was illegal.
Dumba said that
they were gathering all the necessary documents with a view of reporting
the matter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
councillor told us that Chombo wanted the land.
though his name does not appear on the minutes, one way or the other,
the minister is answerable, as the Urban Councils Act does not give
the caretaker council the power to make such decisions on land.
The minister would have the power,” said Dumba.
A Mrs Mbara
who works at Harare City Council’s Kuwadzana district council
and who has a stand at the now-contested site said she had been
granted a lease at the beginning of this year and was not looking
forward to the land being taken.
going there to put up a wall to show that the stand is mine,”
she said. She refused to comment on the allegations that Chombo
may be involved.
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