The Sunday News
Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
A Gweru City Council councillor has come under spotlight after he parcelled out housing stands to his children aged 13 and five.
The councillor for Ward 11, Clr Albert Chirau bought housing stands for his underage children, amid allegations of corruption by councillors and managers in the local authority. The Government has since written a letter to Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe accusing him of condoning corruption by allowing council management and councillors to acquire land at paltry prices prejudicing council of potential revenue.
According to documents in possession of this publication, Clr Chirau bought stands number 6835 Senga Infill and 6841 Senga for his two children. Clr Chirau confirmed purchasing the stands, adding that he was not the only one who bought land for relatives and children.
“My children did buy those stands. If the law does not allow juveniles to purchase stands the council must not have accepted the money. It is not my fault, it is the fault of the people who receipted the money. I am not the only one who did so. For instance, one of the stands I bought for my children is 6835 in Senga and number 6832 was bought by (former Housing Director) Mrs Unity Jaji’s child who is also underage, (former Town Clerk) Daniel Matawu also gave stands to his children. So it is not only me,” he claimed. Mrs Jaji and Mr Matawu could not be drawn to comment on the matter.
Gweru City Director of Housing and Community Services, Mr Shingirai Tigere said ideally, the council advertises stands, and gives first priority to people on the housing waiting list and it was not possible that under-aged children would be on the waiting list, making the purchase of the stands by councillors and managers for their children unprocedural. Mr Tigere added that council does not enter into contracts with juveniles and cannot sell stands to underage people.
“Procedurally the acquisition of a residential stand is that the engineering department surveys the land that is fit for that purpose, calculates the costs and hands over the stands to the housing department which also includes tax and administrative fees to the cost of the stand. Then the local authority is supposed to advertise the stands and conducts interviews with the people shortlisted on the waiting list to see if they have the capacity to take up the offer,” he said.
Ironically, Mr Tegere is also at the centre of the storm after he allegedly bought more than one stand together with his subordinates in the housing department. Gweru debtors billing documents seen by this reporter show that Mr Tigere got one stand in Randolph Phase 1 and another one in Senga suburb. Mr Tigere’s assistant Mrs Jaji also got a stand in Randolph Phase 1 and another one in Mkoba 21 and has also made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands. Her child also bought a stand in Senga. Council employment conditions for managers and councillors are that each of them is entitled to buy one stand but officials went against the policy and allocated each other more than one stand.
Another assistant director Mr Manford Gambiza was also allocated a stand in Mkoba 21 and another in Randolph Phase 1 and has since made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands. Housing officer Mr Admire Chigayo also got a stand in Randolph Phase 1 and the second one in Mkoba 21. Mr Biggie Ngadze, a senior administration officer was allocated a stand in Mkoba 21 and another one in Randolph Phase 1 and has since made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands.
Mr Tigere’s secretary Mrs Emma Manyika was allocated a stand in Mkoba 21 and another one in Randolph Phase 2.
An MDC-Alliance member Mr Murisi Zwizwai also benefitted from the said land scam and paid a paltry ZW$12 437 for stand number 3042 Randolph Phase 1 which is 5 407m2, seven years after he was offered the land. At the current auction rate Mr Zwizwai paid about US$150.
Acting Town Clerk Mr Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe also bought more than 3 327 square metres for a paltry ZWL$29 230.92 (about US$356) converted at the RBZ auction rate.
The Government has said it will deal decisively with issues of land scam, allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Gweru City Council. In an interview, Minister of Local Government and Public Works Hon July Moyo said Government was seized with allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Gweru City Council.
“The Government wrote to Gweru Mayor Clr Makombe. We asked him to respond to what we had raised in the letter. He has responded and we are dealing with the matter and will give update soon,” he said.
Gweru Mayor Makombe conceded that council was being prejudiced by low priced stands which directors, councillors and other top managers bought. The mayor added that council has since invited Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit to look into the matter.