Zimbabwe: Police Bosses in U.S.$4 Million Housing Scandal

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Scores of junior police officers were allegedly prejudiced in excess of US$4 million by their superiors in a botched housing scheme bankrolled by CABS under a 10-year mortgage arrangement, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

ZRP was allocated land in Hatcliff in Harare by the Ministry of Local Government for the development of a title-holding individual home ownership scheme for police officers. A total of 900 housing stands were developed next to ZRP High School, but only two showhouses have been constructed since 2011. Junior officers have received no further communication on the progress of the project.

The police officers have engaged lawyers for a round table meeting in a bid to compel their employer to give them housing stands on which they can build on their own. Documents obtained from aggrieved officers show that instead of giving answers on the state of the housing scheme, senior police officers in charge of the project have told their subordinates to claim refunds.

Junior police officers, however, feel they have been disadvantaged because they made payments in United States dollars, but police bosses insist claims can only be settled in RTGS dollars.

An offer letter seen by the Independent says the ZRP engaged "a local" building society to service the stands and build four-roomed houses under a 10-year mortgage facility.

Initial costs of servicing and building four rooms were done by both the ZRP and the building society. "Stand sizes range between 250 to 500 square metres. Once the mortgage terms and other preliminaries are concluded, beneficiaries will be asked to sign mortgage documentation. Cost details: US$17 623, 98. Total deposit US$4 473,00 and monthly instalments for 10 years of US$202,00. The amount paid as deposit will have a bearing on the level of instalments to be paid," a copy of the offer letter reads.

Some of the affected officers said engagements with the two superintendents in charge of the project have so face failed to yield a positive result as they are told to await for a response to a letter that was sent to former ZRP commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri.

The initial arrangement was that a beneficiary would get an offer letter upon payment of

US$4 500 through CABS, after which they would be entitled to a four-roomed cottage. Further developments would be at the individual owner's expense.

"The problem is we are now getting refunds in bond notes. We won't be able to buy anything with the money. They are no longer communicating with us and the same response we have been getting since 2011 that a letter was sent to the commissioner on the status of the project is the same answer we are getting eight years down the line. Obviously something is not right and the fact that they now want to refund our money is suspicious as they may now want to resell the stands since the money has lost value," said one source.

Coincidentally, the source said, the senior officers have their own project in the plush Harare suburb of Gletwin which has been completed although it commenced at the same time as the Hatcliff one. CABS chief executive Simon Hammond acknowledged being involved in the housing scheme, but said he would not comment further as the bank was in a closed period.

"Sure, I'm aware of that project, but you would want to appreciate that we are in a closed period at the moment, so I won't be able to respond to your questions," he said.

Superintendent Leaphy Marapira, who was in charge of the project from the outset, said she would not comment on the phone and requested a formal meeting. However, she turned down several requests for an appointment, saying she was not authorised to talk to the press. "I don't talk to the media, please go through the PGHQ [Police General Headquarters] press office," she said.

Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi did not reply to questions sent to him despite promising to do so.

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