Massive stands scandal unearthed in Chitungwiza

Councillors and some staff of Chitungwiza Municipality identified land and allocated themselves for free or for as little as US$200 before reselling the stands for US$5 000 and above, an audit has revealed.

The human resource manager Mary Mukonyora Rashamira got 84 stands while other councilors such as Chibvongodze and Mlambo among others got a bigger share of the loot.

In one of the cases, one councillor is said to have benefited from 46 stands.

This is contained in the Chitungwiza Municipality Internal Audit which was out carried between April 2015 to January 2016 which led to US$7, 7 million being prejudiced.

“The audit revealed that council staff and councillors were identifying undeveloped stands and submitting such stands for verification and allocation by council’s housing department to themselves and connected beneficiaries in what could be turning into money spinning by staff and councillors at the sad detriment of resourcing council and members of the public on the council waiting list.

“The councillors and staff could identity undeveloped stands/land and open spaces; draw their layout and site plans for use by council and allocate themselves free or undercharge to as low US$200 and proceed to sell the same stands at market value of US$5 000 and above, pocketing the proceeds to personal use.

“Most stands involving councillors and staff were not paid for and those involving individuals especially for multi-stands beneficiaries only paid US$200 which is just service fees.

“In a suspected looting spree, councillors and officials allocated themselves commercial and institutional stands; Mary Mukonyora Rashamira (Human Resources Manager) got 84, 100 square metres for a school, Councillor Simbiso Mhike got 84, 130 square metres and Councillor Nicholas Mashayamombe got 38, 390 square metres.

“At the time of the audit, councillor Charamba Mlambo reportedly benefited 46 stands,” read the audit.

It was added that some of the councillors went on to work with some individuals for the collection of offer letters.

“As if that is not enough, councillors (Chibvongodze, Mhike, Musonza, Makweza, Dzere and others) and officials (Rosemary Maridza, Gilbert Gono, Taruvinga Collen Chacha, William Oberd Mukuya, Solomon Joe and Renine Mudarikwa) in cahoots with some individuals collected avalanches of offer letters in different names of beneficiaries, an indication of selling municipal land by third parties.

“Intelligence reveals that this is a heavily charged service which is attracting as much as US$5 500 for high density stands.

“The syndicate identified potential buyers of stands/land; processed offer letters directly in the names of these buyers; collected such offer letters on behalf of against council policy; or in cases where transfer of such land was required, council staff would process cessions without any payment made to council.

“The cartel has thus effectively transformed into ‘Real Estate Agents’.

“The rot is further exacerbated by a chaotic land management system characterised by illegal acquisition, one person-many-stands scenario, double allocations, wanton repossessions and dubious reselling of stands in utter disregard for the handwork for the management of urban State land.

“Some stands paid for could not be located in the records and information systems of council, while others showed payment of service fees.

“Of great concern is that these issues have been highlighted in three previous investigation reports by the ministry and council has always undertaken to improve council estates and housing records.

“There is now little doubt that that “chaos” is the preferred modus operandi for Chitungwiza as it covers corruption,” added the report.

The report led Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere to suspend all 25 councillors and subsequent appointment of a three member team to run the affairs in the meantime.

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