CONTROVERSY over development of a multi-million-dollar shopping complex, Mall of Zimbabwe, at the Millennium Park in Borrowdale West persists amid revelations that there are moves by the city fathers to launch an appeal application at the Administrative Court to stop the project.
The Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe (ECAZ) is believed to have teamed up with the business community in Borrowdale as well as the Concerned Residents Association to protest council's decision to allow construction of the mall at the site which they argue, is wetland.
The Mall of Zimbabwe project is valued at US$100 million. The land in question is along Borrowdale Road opposite the Borrowdale Race Course.
The multi-million dollar project is a partnership between the City of Harare and three investors - Augur Investments, McCormick Property Development and West Group.
The Financial Gazette can exclusively reveal that ECAZ has hired a consultant to prepare notes on an appeal case against the building of the shopping complex at the Administrative Courts.
ECAZ says while the project would create employment, it flies in the face of indigenisation of the economy as it will destroy local businesses. It alleges that foreign companies are being preferred for the construction of the project and occupancy of space created thereto is taken up by foreign concerns that are likely to pose unfair competition to local ones.
"The project, yes, will create employment at the same time forcing local companies to fold thus creating unemployment. On a scale of probability, the project is likely to bring more misery than joy," reads part of an ECAZ document in our possession.
"More frightening is the way the rules and regulations were massaged to cover up gross official ineptitude (i.e. alienation and transference of some tracts of land without the appropriate zoning from which uses are properly priced and citing inaccurate legal provisions in order to ambush the policymakers with a fait accompli situation or Hobson choice, take it or else face the Minister's damnation)," concludes the report.
The author of the report urges investigation into what he calls "serious veiled private interests" requiring "serious interrogation and critiquing in order that genuine public interest is served and saved".
A source within ECAZ said that even within the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai people are shaking due to the murky goings-on regarding the Millennium Park deal.
It could not be established at the time of going to Press what action the MDC-T was taking and what their official position regarding the Millennium Park saga is. But this week, Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda reportedly gave the thumbs up to the construction of the Mall of Zimbabwe. Masunda is aligned to the MDC-T.
Worship Dumba, a member of ECAZ, said his colleagues were not happy with seemingly flagrant disregard of council procedure displayed in approval of the deal with Augur.