13 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Exclusive - Local Government Ministry Officials Fingered in Corrupt Land Deals

Three Local Government ministry officials have been implicated in a shady land deal where they allegedly connived to fraudulently allocate 120 hectares of state land at Haydon Farm in Zvimba district to a private developer.

The three, Christopher Shumba who is the Principal Director Responsible for Rural Authorities, Principal Director of Physical Planning Ethel Mlalazi and Acting Deputy Director State Land Department Kristina Koswa Chikotera are alleged to have used their positions to dish out state land to Delatfin Investments.

Delatfin Investments is further alleged to have gone behind council's back and illegally grabbed 120 hectares Haydon Farm.

Allegations are that in 2011, Zvimba Rural District Council (RDC) issued a tender for the development of Haydon Farm measuring 744,56 hectares in exchange for a partnership agreement with a private developer.

Upon considering the bids submitted, Council resolved to award the tender to Delatfin Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

An agreement to that effect was signed between Council and the developer wherein the Developer would get 60% of the shares of the proceeds of the Partnership with Council getting 40% plus 10% commonage.

On the implementation of the Partnership Project, it was then discovered that only 266 hectares of Haydon Farm was available with the other portion earmarked for the Jatropha Project (Bio Diesel Plant).

The other 100 hectares had been allocated to Lovemore Kurotwi for Conway college and truck inn.

According to documents in possession of this publication, a meeting held on 20 March 2018 at the Minister's boardroom, and chaired by Shumba and also attended by Mlalazi, directed to give an "olive branch to Delatfin by giving them another extension of six months."

The meeting also recommended that the Ministry sets up a committee to monitor progress during the extension period and the costs would be borne by Zvimba RDC.

Zvimba RDC was advised to seek legal expertise from the Ministry's legal department with respect to the contract signed by Delatfin.

The meeting also recommended that the department of state land write a formal letter to Delatfin (PVT) Ltd to regularise their allocated 120 hectares.

However, this was contrary to another meeting held on 2 March 2017 at Haydon farm which in approving the layout plan without following proper procedure showed favor to Delatfin.

In attendance were council officials, State Land Department including Chikotera and Delatfin C.E.O Felix Munyaradzi and his lawyer.

In her remarks on the said date, Mlalazi acknowledged that Delatfin "had encroached into a portion of land allocated to Leengate,"

Mlalazi further stated that; "The Ministry realised that the piece of land belonged to Ms Mutsonziwa, an indigenous, who had inherited the piece of land from her former employer and this led to the withdrawal of the acquisition request."

In the same meeting, Mlalazi said Delatfin was claiming that it was allocated the whole farm through tender while Zvimba RDC was saying to the contrary.

"Both parties presented their versions and their interpretations of events and way forward. After hearing the submissions of both parties, Mlalazi, who is supposed to protect state land from abuse, promised to consult and make a determination but to date, she is still to decide on the matter.

"This clearly shows that she was compromised by Delatfin," the source who attended the meeting said.

Zvimba RDC Chief Executive Officer Peter Hlohla said; "Sometime In 2011, Zvimba RDC advertised NOT to allocate Haydon Farm but to partner with a developer in servicing the land prior to the accusation of the same.

"The mention of 744ha in the memorandum of agreement was for description purposes of the available land. Zvimba RDC in partnership with Delatfin which won the tender, produced a layout plan covering 266ha and the land that was available after deducting gland which was offered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the Jathropha project (295ha), Conway College (70ha), Diamond Processing Centre (30ha)," Hlohla is quoted as saying.

It was also reported that council and the Developer worked on the layout Plan (subdivision Permit for State Land) for the 266 hectares and submitted it for approval by the Principal Director of Physical Planning Mlalazi and it was dully approved after all verifications had been done.

The meeting was also told that the approved layout Plan for 266ha only became the basis for the implementation of the Project between Council and Delatfin Investments (Private) Ltd.

The meeting further heard that apart from the partnership relating to the approved 266ha, Zvimba Rural District Council never entered into any other partnership with Delatfin Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

A source close to the dealings alleged that Delatfin Investments then connived with the Ministry of Local Government officials ( Shumba, Mlalazi) and unlawfully made their own layout plan of the grabbed land which included an additional 120 hectares it had been dubiously allocated.

"The effect of the approval of this layout plan was that PD Mlalazi and PD Shumba had given Delatfin 120 hectares of State land for free and the other 120 hectares which he is supposed to pay but it's now three years and nothing has been paid either as the purchase price of the land or tax. It is critical to note that all resultant stands from this layout are all sold out," the source told this publication.

This layout plan was approved without consulting Zvimba RDC in violation of Section 43 of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, which says that:

"A proposed layout for the subdivision of State land or Communal Land for public, industrial, commercial, Residential or similar purposes shall be referred to the Director, who shall not approve the proposed layout until- the local authority concerned has been consulted."

"After clandestinely procuring the approval of Delatfin's fraudulent layout plan, Shumba through Chikotera have now written a letter to Zvimba to pay for the portion which was given to Delatfin free of charge through corruption after having directed the suspension of Council C.E.O Peter Hlohla from Council," the source further alleges.

The source further alleged that Shumba working in cahoots with Kristina Chikotera caused a letter to be written to Council directing Council to compensate land given to council including the 120 hectares stolen from the State by Delatfin, Mr Shumba, Chikotera and Mlalazi were all aware that Council had not benefited anything from the 120 hectares, yet they wanted Council to use ratepayers' money to pay for land stolen by Delatfin. This is a clear case of corruption and abuse of office by government officials in favour of Delatfin

"Chikotera wrote a letter directing Zvimba RDC to compensate 380 hectares of land and not 266 which council allocated. This was a deliberate move to dupe council because she had smuggled in Delatfin's fraudulently acquired 120 hectares as part of the total hectare to be compensated by the council. The letter was copied to Delatfin and Felix Munyaradzi who brought the letter to Zvimba RDC," said the source.

Zimbabwe

Mbeki Speaks On Zimbabwe Dialogue

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has said President Mnangagwa is correct in convening the Political Actors… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2019 263Chat. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.