MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa has been sucked into the latest swirl of residential stands allocation scam in the capital city, amid revelations that the opposition has been stripping the council of land to finance its subversive intentions and prepare for the 2023 harmonised elections.
Already, over a dozen Harare City Council officials, including MDC-A Mayor Herbert Gomba, human resources and former housing director Matthew Marara, the city’s town planner Samuel Nyabeze and surveyor Munyaradzi Bowa have been arrested on a string of allegations that include criminal abuse of office and corruption.
But their arrest could just be a tip of the iceberg of the rot in MDC Alliance run councils countrywide that have been invaded by the party heavyweights to finance their fancy lives, sponsor subversion as well as set a war chest for the 2023 elections.
At the centre of the scandal are MDC councillors, Mr Chamisa himself, his secretary-general Mr Charlton Hwende, some captured persons in the justice delivery chain and the councillors who use control of the capital city to blatantly disregard the housing waiting list and milk the council of millions of dollars through undervaluing properties.
Sources inside council and in the MDC-A said there was a resolution that was passed by the opposition party last year that they needed to take advantage of controlling the country’s major cities to finance party programmes, including the planned July 31 demonstration.
Information gleaned from various sources revealed that the only two MDC-A councillors, who are not involved in stripping the city of land out of the 45, are Mr Ian Makone (Ward 18) and Ward 4 councillor Mrs Tracey Chagarisa as the party accumulates wealth in what has left the capital with no open space or land banks.
Investigations by The Herald also established that, because of the elaborate planning from the MDC-A hierarchy, a process that could take weeks or months to complete would be done in less than two hours, while council resolutions could be fast-tracked to ensure those who were sold the residential stands, often-times who jumped the housing waiting list, had their residential stands in a matter of hours.
“They agreed that the process of fundraising was both for 2023 and to fund party activities, including destabilising the country at a meeting that was held in December last year,” said an insider familiar with the illegal allocation and parcelling of stands to MDC-A kingpins and apologists.
For instance, councillor for Ward 16 Denford Ngadziore got 36 stands in the Westlea area where home-seekers would be made to pay in US dollars but the intrinsic value would be paid in local currency.
In Strathaven 30 residential stands were sold for US$30 000 and after getting the money, the MDC-A councillors paid ZW$17 000 to council.
Stands 1041-1044 in Morningside measuring 2 000 square metres were sold for US$50 000 and ZW$25 000 was paid to Harare City Council.
Apart from targeting individuals, the MDC-A web of corruption also roped in companies that were either linked to the party directly or indirectly.
“In December 2019 the MDC came up with a list of companies to give land to. Hayes Construction, whose director is Mr Charlton Hwende, was given a site to build flats in Southerton. Another company, AM Machado Construction received land and did not pay. The process of giving these companies land was done in one day and then they backdated a resolution in March this year that the companies would not pay but would choose a social responsibility programme they could support,” another top council official said.
Contacted for comment, Mr Hwende said: “I am not a director of Hayes Construction. I don’t own that company. The only company I am a director of is Twinsday Logistics based in Namibia.
“I would not deny it if I had properly applied for land and I am given that land.”
Notwithstanding that they were not on the housing waiting list, the party leaders were also pampered with residential stands.
“Mr Chamisa was allocated a 3 000-square-metre stand number 19740 in Gunhill. There is no record of payment. His brother Starman was allocated a residential stand measuring 2 000 square metres opposite the United States embassy in Westgate in 2019, the stand was only paid for recently, this is despite the fact that he had a stand in Sunningdale allocated on a recreational tennis court. He, however, sold the stand in connivance with Marara.
“Another beneficiary is Mr Murisi Zwizai who got a stand behind Borrowdale Police Station, again without following the council processes,” said a senior council official in the housing department.
Asked for a comment, Mr Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said: “We need to go through what you are saying.”
With councillors playing ball, the MDC-A then compromised persons occupying positions of influence in government institutions such as the police and the judiciary.
Information gleaned by The Herald revealed that top cops, senior judicial officers including those from the Prosecutor General offices and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) were “bought by residential stands” even though they were not on the waiting list.
“Four ZACC investigators, including a commissioner, were given residential stands in Greendale. The police were also compromised, especially the law and order section, the homicide department and also the commercial crimes unit, those people were bought through the elaborate scheme so that when the situation comes to light it would be handled with friendly forces. The majority of residential stands in wetlands in Westlea were given to police officers and senior officials in the judiciary,” another councillor told this publication.
Besides giving land to councillors, the police and other key officials, the MDC corruption web also included its political activists such as Mr Mfundo Mlilo, who got a 3 000-square-metre stand opposite PetroTrade along the Bulawayo Road and Mr Pedzisai Ruhanya, who got a stand even though he was not on the housing waiting list.
Bet when Kuwadzana and White House, another suburb, that is mainly resided by MDC-A activists was created by the opposition to create an exclusive enclave for subversive purposes. About 256 stands were also created in Westlea and curiously the majority of those allocated stands there are from the police force.
Having captured some police and judicial officers and also investigators from ZACC so as to cover their tracks, the scheming MDC-A also gave residential stands to some of the country’s musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo, Peter Moyo and Brahman Chizvino, popularly known as Baba Harare.
“The musicians were targeted to ensure that they would compose pro-MDC Alliance jingles and subversive songs between now and the elections. Mapfumo got a residential stand in Glen Lorne while Moyo and Chizvino got theirs in Mufakose.”
Today Harare, once the sunshine city, is a pale shadow of its former glorious self — refuse goes uncollected, rivulets of sewage flow in the high density suburbs while the open spaces have all been sold to finance the MDC-A activities.
The city currently has no land bank as most of the land has been parcelled out to MDC-A cronies and to specific people of authority and influence in some government institutions.