HARARE CITY COUNCIL LAND SAGA: The Question of Corruption

    By Sekuru Nhando

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    The allegations of corruption in the Harare City Council with regard to land allocations involving opposition councillors, leaders, activists and sympathisers is very interesting. Two schools of thought with supporting theories have erupted. One is that it is true. The other is that it is just a smear campaign particularly against Nelson Chamisa and his team. What has also arisen to be reflected is the polarising political dichotomy of issues involving Zanu PF and MDC. Generally, it looks like when anything wrong is done by Zanu PF it must be exposed and condemned. However, when something wrong is done by MDC, especially Chamisa’s MDC, it is quickly labelled smear campaign and meant to stifle democratic space through targeting the opposition. Corruption must not be tolerated when its done by the opposition and condemned when done by Zanu PF.

    Corruption is corruption regardless of who is responsible and as such must be condemned. Smear campaign must be exposed regardless of who the perpetrator is. Smear campaign against the MDC must be condemned and smear campaign against Zanu PF must be condemned. Any form of smear campaign serves to confuse the electorate and actually stifles democracy. Be that as it may it is imperative to briefly interrogate the question of corruption in Local Government Authorities in Zimbabwe especially in the advent of the opposition since 2000. Fast forward to the period of the GNU when one Councillor, Warship Dumba and the current Head of the Presidential Special Anti Corruption Unit, Thabani Mpofu were arrested for exposing the rot orchestrated from Chombo’s, then Minister of Local Government, office which sucked in many Harare councillors, across the political divide, and many council employees right to the then Town Clerk, one Mahachi. Some of the councillors named then are also named now.

    The Chamisa issue is very interesting in that it seems to have directly sucked in the highest echelons of the political ecosystem in urban local governance. The MDC in its various formations has presided over the running of our local government authorities for the past two solid decades. A lot has been said with regard to service delivery in these authorities. The truth is service delivery hasn’t been satisfactory. Those running the local authorities have attributed their failure to the meddling by the central government which has been all along controlled by Zanu PF. In the absence of definitive research this assumption that failure to deliver is attributed to central government meddling seem to have carried the weight of narrative.

    However, this narrative is getting a serious knock from the ever rising allegations and evidence of corrupt tendencies from those actually running the authorities. Specifically, the opposition. In the past two decades the nation has witnessed the rise of these corruption allegations and at some points the opposition itself has taken action against its own deployees after internal investigations confirmed corrupt tendencies by councillors.
    While it may be true, as some among the opposition circles and their sympathisers claim, that the fingering of Harare Councillors in land scam is smear campaign aimed at denting the democratic struggle it is imperative to pause for a second and reflect. There are simple ways to dispel allegations of corruption especially against Nelson Chamisa and his top team.

    In the case of Chamisa in particular with reference to Stand Number 19740 Gunhill there are very easy ways to establish the truth of the matter. If he is clean he will be exonerated without even an iota of effort on his part. This can be a good simple task for investigative journalists or ordinary researchers. The following questions can provide a framework to put the matter beyond reasonable doubt. The answers will establish whether it is indeed a propaganda stunt aimed at smearing his good name or that indeed he is involved in corruption.

    The questions

    1. 1. Who owns Stand Number 19740 Gunhill?
    2. 2. When was it purchased?
    3. 3. How much was the going price?
      a. How much are the going prices for other similar pieces of
      land in the same locality?
      b. What was the asking currency?
    4. 4. Who paid for the stand?
      a. How much was paid?
    5. 5. How was the stand paid for?
      a. Cash?
      b. Transfer?
      c. US dollar or local currency?
    6. 6. When did the owner first appear on the city’s waiting list?
    7. 7. Who authorised the sale?
    8. 8. Does the owner have any other properties similar or otherwise in the city?
    9. 9. What is the property’s file number?

    10. All the answers can be accessed in the agreement of sale at Rowan Martin Building next to Rainbow Towers. Since council land is public property all matters pertaining to its disposal is open for public consumption and scrutiny.

    These same questions can also be applied with regard to all other politicians and persons implicated in this saga. If the answers are in contravention of the city by laws and national statutes, it’s a clear pointer that corruption was involved. Both beneficiaries and facilitators will therefore be liable. Hence crime committed.

    Corruption must fall. There should be no sacred cows across the political divide.

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